Why many Tanzanians needing plastic surgery suffer in silence

19Sep 2019
Henry Mwangonde
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Why many Tanzanians needing plastic surgery suffer in silence

MANY Tanzanians with deformities and other illnesses that are corrected through plastic surgery suffer in silence due to the small number of surgeons and lack of awareness about the treatment, it was said yesterday.

Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH).

Tanzania has less than 10 plastic surgeons and the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) alone receives an average of 15 patients who require surgery every three months and it has only four surgeons, Dr Deogratius Manyama, the Acting Director of Surgical Services at MNH’s Mloganzila Hospital has declared.

Briefing the media on a three days reconstructive surgery camp at MNH in collaboration with experts from South Korea, Dr Laurean Rwanyuma a consultant surgeon at MNH said there are many people who require the service but, they do not obtain it because the number of such surgeons in the country is small.

“There are a lot of patients who require plastic surgery not only in Dar es Salaam but countrywide. They are mostly those whose complications were caused by injuries from road and fire accidents,” he said.

Other patients who require the services are those with diabetes, obesity and birth defects in children, he said.

There is need for raising the capacity to train and get more plastic surgeons, as well as creating a succession plan to ensure we have a reasonable number of experts who will provide services to the population, he further noted.

In his remarks, Prof Jeong Tae Kim, a Korean plastic surgeon, said he was surprised when he saw the huge number of patients who needs plastic surgeries but they are not exposed to doctors.

“This hospital is well facilitated and it has most of the standards required worldwide, but I was surprised that there are many patients with injuries, wounds and scars including children who are in serious need of reconstructive surgery. But unfortunately they are not exposed to any help because of the lack of surgeons in Tanzania,” he said.

He said his country has good relations with Tanzania and the plan is to train more Tanzanian experts on plastic surgery so when they start working they can easily conduct cosmetic surgery.

South Korea was among countries with tremendous achievements in training plastic surgeons as currently it has more than 2000, the medic intoned.

One surgery takes eight to nine hours depending on the complexity and in Korea one surgery can cost up to $3,000 to the patient’s family or insurance, he added.