Polska pomoc


Development of the sector of Neurosurgery and injuries prevention in Burundi

Burundi is located in the western part of East Africa, bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. It is a state with an area of 28,000 square kilometres and a population of 9,850,000, making it the second-most populous country in Africa. Its capital city of Bujumbura is the country’s largest agglomeration and its administrative, transportation and economic centre. Of the country’s population, 11.5% live in urban areas, of which 90% live in the capital and surrounding areas. Half of the country’s population has not reached the age of 14.

The country has long been plagued by conflict. In the 1990s, hostilities between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes led to mass migrations: approximately 200,000 Hutus left the country, while at the same time about 250,000 Tutsis emigrated there from Rwanda. These population shifts compounded social tensions and overcrowding, which continues to hinder access to healthcare today. An additional access-limiting factor is the medical fees payable by the majority of the population (with the exception of insured people, children up to the age of five and pregnant women).

More than half of the country’s medical staff is concentrated in Bujumbura (53% of doctors and 50% of nurses), which makes it the optimal place for implementation of the project. Because the Kamenge Military Hospital is a referral hospital which cooperates with medical schools, reliance on its experience and facilities can be expected to contribute to the achievement of project objectives and its sustainability.

Burundi has no centre that specialises in neurosurgery. The studies that Kamenge University Clinical Centre carried out in 2007 (“Thoracic and lumbar spine injuries”) and in 2014 (“Spinal injuries with neurological complications”) indicate injuries to the skull and spine to be very common in that country. Analytical studies conducted by Aimé Ndayizéyé M.D. and André Desiré Masabu M.D., respectively, demonstrated that spinal injuries accounted for 2.5% of all hospitalisation cases, and that none of them were surgically treated due to the lack of medical equipment. Only a small number of patients can afford the expense of undergoing such treatment abroad.

The aforementioned injuries are mainly sustained in accidents. The average age at which casualties occur is 35 years. These are people active in the labour market, which is why their illnesses/disabilities result in adverse social and occupational effects (lack of funds to support a family or the inability to function and develop independently caused by paralysis), leading to poverty.

The creation of a neurosurgical unit constitutes a direct response to the described problem, as it will reduce the number of morbidities and disabilities among people suffering neurosurgical trauma and raise awareness of preventive measures.

Development of the sector of Neurosurgery and injuries prevention in Burundi

The overall objective of the project is to improve the health of the people of Burundi and neighbouring countries. Establishing the first neurosurgical unit in Burundi will enable patients undergoing treatment there to avoid socio-economic exclusion. Their ability to lead vocationally active lives will contribute to the development of the country and consequently to the eradication of poverty. The preventive measures the project provides for will lead to a sustainable change in attitudes of the population and to development of habits that help people avoid injuries.

The project is targeted at two groups of final beneficiaries in Burundi and the western part of East Africa: those who suffer neurosurgical trauma and have no access to medical treatment and the hospital staff attending the neurosurgical assistance course.

The outreach of the newly created neurosurgery unit will include the entire country of Burundi and part of the East Africa sub-region, and thus the unit will potentially serve a population of about 10 million. The project’s direct beneficiaries will be primarily the hospital patients (including pregnant women and children) receiving treatment there (50 people by the end of the project and from then on about 200 people per year) and their families who are relieved from caring for those patients. The other group of project beneficiaries will be the inhabitants of Bujumbura as the recipients of the planned preventive campaign. The number of those potentially at risk of such injuries is estimated at over 120,300. This is why that project component will address itself to a group of around 200 police and army officers and to all interested residents of the capital city, where a significant percentage of such injuries occur and lead to reduced mobility and increased poverty. The hospital staff are also an important group of project recipients, who can multiply the project effects in the future. Following project completion, the project initiators will continue to cooperate with the Kamenge University Clinical Centre on improving the skills and qualifications of the medical staff in Burundi.

Development of the sector of Neurosurgery and injuries prevention in Burundi

The direct objectives and effects of the project have not been achieved due to its discontinuation prior to the commencement or completion of the measures key to attaining those objectives and effects. In light of to the political situation in Burundi as established by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the implementation of the project was halted on 30 June 2015.