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Health

KidsOR will set up operating theatres in Burundi, like this one in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Photo via The Sunday Post

 

In his time as a general surgeon in Burundi, Central Africa, Dr Alliance Niyukuri regularly found himself unable to help child patients with treatable conditions and injuries.

Those with problems such as broken bones, cleft palates – and other health issues which might elsewhere be considered fairly minor surgical conditions – are routinely turned away in the poverty-stricken country, which currently has no paediatric surgery service at all.

In the absence of medical support and often unable to pay for foreign treatment, families regularly find themselves dealing with years-long waiting lists or even the death of their child.

But now, thanks to charity Kids Operating Room (KidsOR), Niyukuri is one of two Burundian surgeons undertaking training to become the nation’s first ever paediatric surgeons.

They will operate from a new, fully equipped children’s operating room which will open in 2023.

KidsOR chief executive David Cunningham said the charity has invested £500,000 in the three-year initiative. “We are very proud to lead on this first-ever programme to train local surgeons for the children of Burundi,” he said. “The absence of paediatric specialists there has led to dependency on visiting doctors, or worse, no care at all.

“Our commitment to train local people and create world-class operating rooms for them to work in changes that. It is the first step on the journey towards independence of healthcare for the children of Burundi.”

He added: “By funding two surgeons to train in paediatrics means that they will then be able to go on and train other colleagues. This will help many thousands of children and it will be a legacy that will last for ever.”

Niyukuri said that in his time as a general surgeon in Burundi he had seen a number of children who had later passed away as a result of birth defects that are easily treated in more affluent countries.

KidsOR, which has bases in Edinburgh, Dundee and Nairobi, works to ensure that children around the world have access to safe surgery and, so far, the charity has provided more than 40,000 children in some of the world’s poorest countries with essential or emergency operations.

KidsOR’s Africa director Rosemary Mugwe said: “The Republic of Burundi is a low-income economy. The population of children is about 50%, but they do not have a single trained paediatric surgeon or any dedicated theatre for children in the whole country.”

Adult patients are routinely prioritised in general surgery because they are of working age. And yet, Mugwe points out, 85% of children in the sub-Sahara region will require some form of surgery before their 15th birthday.

“The best intervention for us was to say: ‘Can we train the country’s first paediatric surgeons and, when they successfully complete their training, can we support them with a state-of-the-art operating room of their own?’ It’s about giving them capacity and then building that on capacity.”

“This approach is important as the local person will understand better the local healthcare system, the social and cultural set-up of their country and is more likely to stay,” says Niyukuri, who recently moved to Blantyre, Malawi, to begin his surgical training.

“I grew up in Burundi and worked as a general surgeon and now I will practice paediatric surgery in my own country.”

Dr Jean Baptiste Nzorironkankuze, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health for Burundi, welcomed the Scots charity’s trailblazing initiative.

He said: “We are thankful for what Kids Operating is doing to improve the wellbeing of the Burundian children in need of surgical care.” - , The Sunday Post

A new batch of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government arrives at Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda, Nov. 7, 2021. Photo Xinhua

 

Rwanda has now fully vaccinated 40 percent of its population against COVID-19, becoming the seventh African country to achieve the target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the end 2021.

The East African country, with a population of around 12 million, has fully inoculated 5,313,421 people from a pool of 7,556,466 doses given so far.

In August, the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, pointed out that Rwanda's success in the fight against COVID-19 had been made possible by the country's "strong leadership".

Dr. Tedros noted that the country's progress in the fight against the pandemic was due to a similar combination (as New Zealand) of strong leadership, universal health coverage, well-supported health workers and clear public health communications," said Tedros.

He hailed the country's move to avail free testing for all citizens, which he said had played a major role in its efforts to eliminate the virus from its borders.

By Saturday, Rwanda had recorded 103,799 COVID-19 cases with 1,345 fatalities.

The 40 percent target set by WHO was announced in October 2021, with a second target for all countries to vaccinate at least 70 percent of their populations by mid-2022. - CGTN

 

The World Health Organization has sent a rapid response team to South Sudan where a mysterious illness has left at least 89 people dead. 

Scientists have yet to identify a fast-spreading disease in the northern town of Fangak. The region has recently been severe flooded, though initial samples returned negative for cholera.

Because of the flooding, the emergency dispatch team had to reach the region via helicopter and is still waiting for transport to the capital of Juba.

Lam Tungwar Kueigwong, the minister of land, says the severe flooding, for the third straight year, has increased the spread of diseases like malaria, in addition to causing a sharp uptick in malnutrition rates in children due to food shortages. 

In addition, oil from the fields in the region has reportedly contaminated the area's water source, killing many domestic animals.

The international charity Doctors Without Borders, which has a presence in the area, is placing dangerous pressure on the fragile health facilities in the area.

One hospital employee told The Sun that the number of children admitted to the area hospital with severe malnutrition has doubled since the flooding began. 

The WHO team was sent to assess risk levels and conduct an investigation into the origin of the disease.

Humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations, have warned that the flooding is likely to continue causing outbreaks in waterborne diseases and malaria, which lead directly to food shortages in the decade-old country that is almost entirely dependent upon international food aid. - Sophie Mann, Just The News

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