I have spent more than 40 years of my life working as a surgeon in Africa (in Somalia, at a time when Somalia was an organised state where I organised the Medical School within the Somali National University and Kenya, where I thought othopaedic and trauma surgery at the University of Nairobi) and this experience permit me to differ with the opinion of many who think that the only priority in Africa is tbc or children disease!
In Africa, there is no government that can afford to pay any invalidity pension and this state of affairs demands sophisticated and up-to-date trauma units, where the modern surgical treatments of fractures are made available in a socio-economic situation where to reduce temporary and permanent disability due to accidents has a paramount importance. Particularly in Kenya, I had to fight hard against the mentality of the colonial remnants I found there, who opposed me for plating a femoral fracture with the techniques routinely used in Switzerland, to whom I objected that those techniques were not necessary in Switzerland where a patient with a femoral fracture healed with a stiff knee and a femoral shaft shortening after the conservative treatments they were giving everybody, would have received a pension, while it would have made impossible for a Maasai shepard to survive!
Of course I won the ideological war and created both in Somalia and in Kenya a school of trauma surgery of Swiss quality that pulled there patients from all over central, eastern and southern Africa and allowed me, for example to perform the first shoulder joint replacement because of a malignant chondrosarcoma ever done in the world in 1973 (http://www.slideshare.net/albnv or http://www.streben.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ASHA.ppt), at least 15 years before anybody else, with a patient still alive and with a functioning shoulder whom I met again by sheer chance in 1988, when she saw me playing in an international polo match in Dubai where she had moved with her husband and children and came to greet me!
Dr. Samuel. O. Owinga, of P. O. Box 35175, Nairobi 00200, Kenya, Consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Dr. QURESHI, Consultant neurosurgeon, Email address: <email@example.com> and Dr NASIR BHANJI, consultant general surgeon, Email <firstname.lastname@example.org>, all of them working at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, can inform you of the impact that my philosophy and my work had in Kenya, an impact much more useful than vaccinating a few dozen children more!
Alberto Bencivenga, MD, PhD
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