Note: Jack Cochran, MD, FACS, is executive director of The Permanente Federation, which represents the national interests of the regional Permanente Medical Groups, which employ 15,000 physicians who care for 8.6 million Kaiser Permanente members. He has traveled regularly to Tanzania for the past 23 years on behalf of Global Health Ministries to provide free surgeries to children/adults with congenital deformities. He traveled there again in February and provided this dispatch:
Just a quick update on our trip to Arusha, Tanzania, which included one other surgeon from the Colorado Permanente Medical Group. Our team of four surgeons did 121 surgeries for the week, of which approximately 76 were ‘major cases.’ We saw a lot of cleft lip/palate and other congenital deformities, burn scar contractures (many very disfiguring), and a variety of tumors and traumatic deformities. We operated 12 hours a day and I was gratified to carry my load!! I look forward to next year and keeping my commitment to the group.
Two positive changes are the really high level of training and skill that the young Tanzanian physicians are getting today. Many are truly world class. Second , the number and skill of young women becoming physicians…a much needed and welcome evolution.
A negative is that trauma is now a more common reason for hospital admission than malaria in spite of a high prevalence of malaria. The reason is the recent boom in motorcycles in the country. They have gone from virtually nonexistent to being everywhere in the past 2 years. The number of motorcycle accidents is truly disturbing and will be another hit on well-being and productivity for too many young Tanzanians.