Kenya needs to train more neurosurgeons, experts say


By IRENE MUGO
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A three-day meeting of neurosurgeons held in Nyeri has urged the government to train more doctors in specialised healthcare as the number for neuro patients increases in the country.

Experts decried the reduced numbers of specialists in the health sector as the country grapples with rising cases of non-communicable diseases leading to neurological conditions.

Skewed resource allocation, lack of prioritisation to achieve health outcome, cost of quality healthcare, lack of equipment and theatre technologies were highlighted as the key challenges facing the health sector.

Statistics indicate that Kenya has 25 practicing neurosurgeons stationed at Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital while the rest are in private hospitals across the country.

During the World Federation of Neurosurgeons Societies seminar, seven live neuro-complex surgeries were done at the Consolata Hospital Mathari.

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The surgeries were witnessed by 40 neurosurgeons drawn from across the globe.

The surgeries were on brain tumour procedures in complex neuroanatomical areas in the nervous system.

Participants were drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon. Others were from Pakistan, USA, United Kingdom, Turkey, India and Japan.

This is the first time that Kenya was hosting the international conference and live surgery symposium.

Dr Andrew Nyaoncha, a key speaker, said the neurosurgery conference was important for Kenya to demystify the practice and to create opportunities for more doctors and other health workers to train.

“Through this symposium we hope to transfer knowledge and technical skills as well as create partnerships for development and technology exchange,” he said.

The neurosurgeon federation plans to create a centre for excellence for neurosurgery practice and an institute of neurosurgery sciences in the Nyeri.

In a speech read on her behalf, Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki noted that the conference provided a platform to reflect on neurosurgical conditions through sharing experiences, tracking the progress of implementation of policies and advocating for multi-sectorial engagements aimed at mitigating the circumstances that bring about neurological conditions.

Data collated from the Nyeri Referral Hospital registry indicates that the facility is receiving between 15 and 20 neuro patients every month.

In addition, the county is experiencing a high number of young people with malignant brain tumours that are increasing the burden of degenerative spinal conditions.

The numbers are linked to the high number of non-communicable diseases in the county such as cancer but particularly diabetes, hypertension and trauma injuries.

“In the last one year alone, we have witnessed 100 per cent increase in the number of cancer patients attended to at the referral hospital while the number of patients attending dialysis has tripled within the same period,” said the county head of medical services Nelson Muriu.

He further stated that the county is strengthening specialised medical care including neurosurgery for the Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Every year, Dr Muriu said the county releases between five and 10 doctors for postgraduate studies in a bid to strengthen specialised medical care.


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