Malawi needs 100 orthopaedic surgeons to eliminate trauma burdens 

Malawi Orthopaedic Association (MOA) says Malawi needs, at least, 100 orthopaedic surgeons to properly help eliminate the burden of trauma cases.

The association’s president, Moreen Sabawo said this in Blantyre during the launch of partnership with other orthopaedic project partners where she indicated that currently there is a total of 14 orthopaedic surgeons and 117 orthopaedic clinical officers — against the total population of over 18 million people.

MOA president, Moreen Sabawo

“This is not recommended,” she said and added that there is a serious need for government and other stakeholders to invest more resources towards infrastructural and human resource development in the orthopaedic services so as to reduce the rising cases of trauma.

Sabawo said the country is witnessing the rising cases of road accidents on daily basis, hence the need for more investments in the orthopaedic services for quality health care provision.

“Poor investments in infrastructure, capacity building and finances is hindering our efforts to provide quality orthopaedic services,” she said. “This is very worrisome indeed because it contributes to overburdening  traumatic cases.”

On the other hand, Sabawo advised the populace to observe the road transport rules and regulations, especially when using the motorcycle, saying this was contributing to increased road accidents as compared to motor vehicles.

Sabawo further described the partnership as a step in a right direction as it will go a long the way to bring about efficiency in the orthopaedic sector.

Claude Martin, managing director for AO-Alliance

Claude Martin, managing director for AO-Alliance, concurred with Sabawo, saying the country needed huge investments in orthopaedic services to ensure quality services.

Martin said despite the partnership’s efforts to reduce the cases since 2015,  the number of injuries from has increased with 50% countrywide.

“Malawi needs to do more to address the issue of injuries from road accidents most especially on kabaza,” he said. “As partners, we have limited resources to support — hence call for a collective effort by all the stakeholders.”

Martin said his Alliance will continue providing leadership training and support infrastructures in district hospital and health centres in an effort to reduce the burden.

“So far, we have managed to increase the number of surgeons from 4 to 14. We have also refurbished and built new operational rooms. Surely, this will be increased with a collective efforts,” he said.

Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art orthopedics & neurosurgery medical facility — Lilongwe Institute of Orthopaedic and Neurosurgery (LION) — was officially opened at Kamuzu Central Hospital, which is set to improve treatment of injuries and neurosurgical disorders for the local community as well as training more qualified surgeons and health personnel.

Officially opened by President Lazarus Chakwera last month, the facility gives hope to Malawians who have for a very long time being twinned to various forms of life threatening injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, physical and neural disabilities due to increased occurrences of road accidents in the country.

Chakwera expressed concern of the increased cases of accidents endured in our roads — saying they do not only claim the lives of the citizenry people but also contribute a lot of heavily sustained injuries which need surgeries.

KCH Director, Dr. Jonathan Ngoma said the facility also contains a training and research department which will ensure sustainability of the LION services overtime through provision of new professional surgeons and research based solutions to various musculoskeletal and neurosurgery disorders.

The LION’s website; , says hospital has an emergency department, operating theatres, a radiology department, labs, rehabilitation center and facilities for education and research. It will also have a separate private wing.

“The LION is an autonomous not-for-profit institution owned by the LION Trust and the hospital will provide quality essential services for free. It also will also have a private wing and offer a comprehensive range of orthopaedic, neurosurgical and rehabilitation services to paying patients.

“LION will deliver integrated point of care services from diagnosis, to surgery and rehabilitation. We have an emergency department, four operating theatres, a modern radiology department, labs and a rehabilitation center to treat patients whether they have acute injuries or impairments due to previous injuries or other conditions.”

Orthopaedic surgeons use both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat injuries, infections and congenital disorders of the bones, joints and muscles — while neurosurgeons treat patients with injury to, or diseases of the brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and peripheral nerves within all parts of the body.

“Education of qualified surgeons and other health personnel, as well as medical research, are also important parts of the LION Trust’s purpose,” says LION on the website. “Our mission is to reduce the high level of disability and it´s economic impact on the people of Malawi.

“LION will be established with a comprehensive, efficient and effective system gearing at sustainable financing, HR development, retention of skilled staff, maintenance, data collection, research and service delivery to the private and public sector, with all principles of good governance and ensuring access to care especially for vulnerable groups.”

According to , the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 5,700 people die due to road traffic accidents in Malawi annually, and about 100,000 are injured in traffic every year.

Over 400,000 children are estimated to be living with musculoskeletal impairments, many that could be treated by surgery.

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