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The Malawi-Germany Neurosurgery Project Enters Its Second Phase

The Malawi-Germany Neurosurgery Project which was launched in pas few years  by senior physician in the neurosurgery clinic at Ulm University Hospital (UKU) Prof. Dr. Thomas Kapapa has now entered its second phase.

The project which was established with the aim of promoting neurosurgery in Malawi, have been experienced some regular exchanges, mutual visits and the implementation of neurosurgical standards have been successfully established in Malawi.

Three neurosurgeons for around 20 million people. What seems difficult to imagine in Ulm is reality in Malawi, East Africa. Together with his Malawian friend and colleague Prof. Dr. Patrick Kamalo founded Prof. Dr. Thomas Kapapa founded the “Malawi-​Germany Neurosurgery Project” in 2017. The further development of neurosurgery at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre is intended to be supported through knowledge transfer, practical and theoretical training for qualifications and skills acquisition, network building and cultural exchange.

The “Malawi-​Germany Neurosurgery Project” has now started into the next phase, as Prof. Thomas Kapapa explains: “The development of basic neurosurgical care on site has now been largely completed. In the first phase from 2020 to 2022, we were able to increase the number of patients treated in Blantyre from 491 to 935 and neurosurgical procedures increased from 377 to 702.

We were able to reduce the mortality rate from neurosurgical diseases in the hospital from 16 to 12 percent “. In addition, through teaching and training events in Germany and Malawi, over 120 employees became specialized in neurosurgical healthcare in the clinic – including the training of the first female neurosurgeon in Malawi.

Together with the University of Ulm, a student exchange was also launched, which enables students from Malawi and Germany to visit and exchange bilaterally at the other university.“In the second phase until 2025, the structures in Malawi will increasingly be used from Germany without our involvement.

This means that seminars, workshops and standard procedures can increasingly be planned and carried out by Malawians themselves,” explains Prof. Kapapa. However, regular exchange and on-site visits – in Ulm and Blantyre – are still important in order to continue to support our colleagues. “Nurses and physiotherapists came to Ulm in October. A return visit to Blantyre is planned for November,” adds Prof. Thomas Kapapa.

In just a few years, the project successfully built the first neurosurgical structures at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre and imparted basic theoretical and practical knowledge.

“I am very pleased that we have intensified the collaboration between German and Malawian colleagues and have thus achieved significant progress for neurosurgical care in Malawi from both a humanitarian and scientific perspective,” said Prof. Thomas Kapapa.

“I am very grateful that, with the help of numerous employees at the UKU and many other supporters, we were able to advance the project so quickly and have now started the next phase.

”The continuation of the “Malawi-Germany Neurosurgery Project” will be supported by the Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation with a sum of €300,000 over the next two years.Since the project was founded, there have been several mutual visits to Ulm and Blantyre.

In April this year, a five-person interdisciplinary team from Malawi was able to spend a month at Ulm University Hospital gaining experience, getting to know processes and deepening their knowledge in the areas of physiotherapy, intensive care and surgical care as well as neurosurgery.

“The main goal is to see how patients are treated here and how they are helped with modern treatment methods. “In this way we can learn and pass on some of these processes and measures,” explains Malawian physiotherapist Daston Myomdo. When introducing technical devices, one thing is clear to everyone: the equipment is crucial.

“Some of the things we have learned here require resources that we do not currently have in   Malawi.

These technologies would make work more precise and easier, but we would need certain resources and more staff. “So we can only adapt and change things slowly in Blantyre,” explains neurosurgeon Yollam Makanjira.

 

Neurosurgical healthcare in Malawi

 

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