Currently the country has only eight neurosurgeons of seven of whom are at the Muhimbili National Hospital and the remaining one is at Bugando Hospital in Mwanza.
Speaking at the third Hands on Neurotrauma Course for East, Central and Southern Africa yesterday in Dar es Salaam, Chief Medical Officer Prof. Muhammed Kambi said the number is just too small to meet the country’s needs.
The training was organised by Muhimbili Orthopedic Neurosurgical Institute (MOI) in collaboration with US based Brain and Spine Center at Weill Cornell Medical College and aimed at capacity building for Neurotrauma doctors and experts.
According to Prof. Kambi, the shortage in Tanzania is associated with the high cost of training a neurosurgeon as well as the number of years its takes to complete the course.
“Majority of science graduates do not opt for this course because its takes about six years excluding the first and second degree years,” he noted.
He said in recognition of the country’s demand for neurosurgeons, the government is now working on collaborating with other nations to meet the demand.
“The government will also establish consultation and treatment camps at the regional level to increase rural access to specialists,” he said.
On her party, Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children Ummy Mwalimu confirmed the plans and said the government is also working to motivate young scientist to opt for the course by training them free of charge.
The minister also highlighted that majority of Neurotrauma patients are victims of motor vehicle and motorcycle accidents.
“MOI alone receives 50 patients per day compared to the previous 20 and three quarters of these are brain and spinal cord injuries,” she detailed.
“This shows how our institutions are overwhelmed,” she said.
“Neurological disorders are among the many health-related challenges facing Tanzanians today, this needs serious attention,” she emphasised.
Summing up, the minister said the government has plans to purchase a new CT Scan and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the institute.