The Weill Cornell Medicine Tanzania Neurosurgery Project was founded in 2008 by Dr. Roger Härtl. The program focuses on Bugando Hospital in northern Tanzania, a regional center that serves a population of 14 million people, and on the Muhimbili Orthopedic and Neurosurgery Institute in Dar es Salaam.
Dr. Härtl and his team train local surgeons to perform basic neurosurgical procedures using locally available equipment and
resources. His team conducts “hands-on” training of doctors in Tanzania, empowering them with a high level of expertise in the management of neurosurgical disorders and neurosurgical procedures (Wait and Härtl 2010). Providing the highest level of surgical training to these eager, talented surgeons impacts every other level of care—nursing, anesthesia, intensive care
treatment, general ward care. Setting the bar high encourages a positive response and team effort involving all areas (Härtl).
The core elements of the program include:
- Promising surgeons are selected for a short-term observational fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. The purpose of this fellowship is to provide motivated surgeons the opportunity to experience high-level neurosurgical care firsthand. This also greatly facilitates the communication between the Weill Cornell team and the Tanzania surgeons once the surgeon has returned home.
- Every year a neurosurgery meeting is organized with international faculty in East Africa that combines lectures, practical workshops, and even live surgeries (Kahamba 2011). Surgeons and nurses from many African countries participate.
- Regular conference calls and Skype conferences are held between the Weill Cornell team and their colleagues in Tanzania to discuss challenging cases and patient management.
- A database and patient registry has been implemented that monitors surgical patient care and ensures quality (Winkler et
al., 2010). The goal is to monitor outcomes of neurosurgical procedures in order to make decisions about the allocation of resources and the success of the current program.
- The annual Neurotrauma course was held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic, and an innovative virtual course on scoliosis was held in early 2021. Live training resumed in 2022. Planning is now underway for adding a course in minimally invasive spine techniques.
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