Developing Sustainable Orthopaedic Care in Northern Tanzania: An International Collaboration

Sheth, Neil P., MD*; Hardaker, W. Mack, MS†; Zakielarz, Kevin S., MSPA‡; Rudolph, Michele, BS§; Massawe, Honest, MD‖; Levin, L. Scott, MD, FACS¶; Premkumar, Ajay, MD, MPH** *Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA; †Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; ‡Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA; §Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; ‖Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, Moshi, Tanzania; ¶Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; and **Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY.
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Summary: There is a devastating lack of access to surgical care, including orthopaedic surgery, in low- and middle-income countries. Similar to other low- and middle-income countries, Tanzania has a severe shortage of trained orthopaedic surgeons. The surgeons available are inundated with acute trauma care and musculoskeletal infections; elective procedures are infrequently performed and the burden of neglected care continues to rise annually. Over the past several years, our interdisciplinary team of both American and Tanzanian members has worked to understand the current local cultural and economic barriers to increasing surgical capacity, ensuring surgical safety, delivering affordable care, providing adequate patient follow-up, and improving surgical education. We propose a new paradigm for the delivery of musculoskeletal care and creation of sustained surgical capacity in this setting by building an Orthopaedic Center of Excellence in Moshi, Tanzania, augmented by international partner institutions year-round. This initiative is a public–private partnership led by the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center. A growing number of contributors, including the Tanzanian Health Ministry, several universities, and industry partners, including general electric (GE) Health Care Africa, are currently helping to advance this concept into reality. Through our model, we aim to increase surgical capacity and quality, as well as enhance local surgical education, with the ultimate objective of training the next generation of African surgeons in the latest surgical techniques and equipment.