The front-page news stories in Saturday’s issue of this paper included a report on a two-member VIP medical delegation with a difference currently in Tanzania for a familiarisation tour – also with a difference.
One of the two special guests is Dr Roysuneel V. Patankar, a well-known consultant gastrointestinal and laparoscopic surgeon based in Mumbai, India, who also has special interest in the endoscopic treatment for varicose veins.
Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery, bandaid surgery or keyhole surgery, is a modern surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions or natural body openings in order to diagnose and treat diseases. It makes use of images displayed on TV monitors to magnify the surgical elements, and includes operations within the abdominal or pelvic cavities.
The other guest is paediatric surgeon and urologist Rajesh Nathani who, like Dr Patankar, is from the Institute for Special Surgery of the Mumbai-based Joy Hospital.
A number of Tanzanians have received medical attention, at Joy Hospital in recent years, this including consultations with specialists and specialised treatment for a range of complications. This has, understandably, gradually led to the cultivation and consolidation of very special links between the hospital and the Tanzanians in questions as well as between Tanzania and India.
Indications are that it is largely thanks to this scenario that the two Indian medicals consultants have come over and are committed to introducing Tanzanian surgeons to what is known in medical lingo as laparascopy, the idea to enable the latter to apply the technology locally.
But that is only part of the story because, according to Dr Patankar, all that the Tanzanian surgeons picked to undergo the specialised training in India will be supposed to cover are travel and accommodations costs.
It is common knowledge that, considering the state of our economy, training doctors and other medical practitioners costs a fortune. This is regardless of whether those trained are self-sponsored or have their tuition and miscellaneous other fees covered through other arrangements.
Landing the kind of offer the visiting Indian medics have laid on our table is therefore a bonus we ought to appreciate. In this context, Dr Patankar has rightly said it is of crucial importance for Tanzanian experts to be armed with enough of the skills they would need to perform laparoscopic surgery in Tanzania so that the service is available in as many hospitals as possible in the country and even poor patients benefit.
The Indian surgeons have had an audience with Tanzanian medical students, general practitioners and a wide array of medical specialists, all concurring on the utility, relevance, convenience and relative affordability of the “wonder technology” they have been introduced to.
As importantly, Dr Patankar has walked the extra mile by actually performing one keyhole surgery (and a few other “ordinary ones”) at a Dar es Salaam hospital, with reports saying everything ran as scheduled.
We applaud the Indian medics’ goodwill gesture to Tanzania, hoping that the relevant authorities will do the needful so that the nation benefits as fully as practicable from the hands of support extended to us.