Labour of love for the city hospital team bringing hope to thousands in Africa (From thisisoxfordshire)
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Labour of love for the city hospital team bringing hope to thousands in Africa
MORE than a decade ago, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre surgeon Chris Lavy established a children’s hospital in south east Africa.
Now, 11 years on, staff at the Beit CURE International Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, see 8,000 patients and perform about 1,500 operations every year, specialising in hip and knee replacement surgery.
In 2002, Prof Lavy got a local architect to design the building and applied to the Beit Trust for funding. It is still one of the few places where such procedures are available in sub-Saharan Africa.
Prof Lavy said: “Oxford has some of the best orthopaedic expertise in the world and it is fantastic we are able to share that with a region that has a desperate need.
“The real strength of this project is that we are working alongside our African counterparts to improve training and help thousands of vulnerable children.”
A team from the NOC in Headington visited the hospital in Malawi in July to help run specialist training on tackling debilitating conditions such as club foot, a deformity present at birth.
The week-long orthopaedics workshop was part of the ongoing £1.4m COSECSA Oxford Orthopaedic Link (COOL) project to improve child healthcare across East, Central and Southern Africa.
As part of the link, medical specialists from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust helped to train more than 400 African counterparts in the past nine months.
Work at the hospital during the past 11 years has led to increased survival rates from serious injuries and road accidents, and the wide range of children’s orthopaedic conditions treated. The children’s orthopaedics workshop was attended by 32 surgical trainees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The three-year training programme is led by Prof Lavy and NOC colleague Hemant Pandit and funded by the our government.
It is estimated that there are more than 500,000 children in the region with untreated musculo-skeletal impairments.
The team running the course included NOC surgeons Andrew Wainwright, David Stubbs and Mr Pandit, along with project manager Grace Le.
Mr Stubbs said: “It was a pleasure to meet with my surgical colleagues in Africa who are so keen to learn, yet are continually battling against the odds to provide the up-to-date health care they know their patients deserve.”
The project is a partnership between Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS) and the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). So far, the programme has run 15 specialist courses across the region and more courses are planned over the next 18 months.
Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Blantyre Beit CURE Hospital and local course leader John Cashman said: “In this region of Africa, approximately half the population is under the age of 16 and life expectancy is commonly less than 50 years.
“However, there are perhaps only a few dozen surgeons in the entire region of Africa trained specifically to deal with such physical disabilities in children.”
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