The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 1 neurosurgeon for every 200,000 people. The only country in Africa that comes close to this number is South Africa with a 1:300,000 ration. In East Africa, each neurosurgeon serves over 11 million people, at least according to the statistics.
The most advanced country in neurosurgery in East Africa is Kenya. And still there are less than 20 neurosurgeons working across the entire country with a population of 50 million. The discipline suffers from a severe lack of adequate education and training opportunities as well as of state-of-the-art equipment.
We have joined a public-private partnership to help develop neurosurgery capacity in Kenya. The vision stems from the Neuroscience Foundation for Africa, a US-based non-profit that aims to combine education abroad with humanitarian medical mission work in the neurosurgery sector, initially in Kenya. Further partners include the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta National Hospital and Michigan State University.
Annual neurosurgery camps in Kenya pursue several goals:
- To provide comprehensive neurosurgical care to Kenyans, especially some of the most disadvantaged members of society from Kibera slum. Proposed cases include the following: brain (neuro-oncology and open vascular), pediatrics (craniosynostosis, neuro-oncology and myelomeningocele), major spine (adult deformity and pediatric deformity), minor spine (microdiscectomy, laminectomy and instrumented cases like ACDF, PCDF and lumbar fusions), and trauma (EDH, SDH, IPH and skull fractures)
- To educate undergraduate and medical students, and to train residents.
- To offer attendings the opportunity to teach.
- To include professionals and students also from ancillary disciplines to become part of neurosurgical teams, including midlevel providers, nurses, scrub techs, physical therapists, intensivists and anesthesiologists, and reps
Opportunities for international professionals, faculty and students:
- Research: Collaborative research initiatives, research fellowships (unpaid), project-specific research practica
- Education & training: Participation in a neurosurgery camp in Kenya (tentative 2019 dates are September 1-10)