Orthopedics, the branch of medicine dealing with the correction of deformities of bones or muscles, is a fast-growing specialty in the healthcare sector of Zimbabwe in the past decade. Orthopedic surgeons have become available in various regions across the country. However, the field of pediatric orthopedic surgery is largely understaffed. Families often travelled across the country to find pediatric orthopedic care, often found in the two largest cities, Harare and Bulawayo. Since the CURE Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe opened its doors in Bulawayo in January 2021, sponsored pediatric orthopedic surgery has become available to children living with physical disabilities in Zimbabwe, as well as training for doctors and nurses pursuing a career in orthopedics in the region.
Dr. Rick Gardner, CURE’s Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Collen Msasanure, Doctor in Charge at CURE Zimbabwe, are facilitating training in pediatric orthopedics at a local government facility, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH). The training started in January 2021 and includes nurses and doctors who are undergoing training in orthopedics. The sessions start with a trainee presenting the given topic of the day, followed by Dr. Rick moderating a discussion.
Dr. Rick Gardner, CURE’s Chief Medical Officer, explained:
“This training program is aimed to educate orthopedic registrars and allow them to explore different topics in orthopedics fully. The training was initially offered to prepare resident doctors to become independent consultants. We focus on medical papers published in recent years to learn how to take care of people in the best way.”
Dr. Mphoko and Dr. Gwetu, resident doctors at UBH attending the training, have been students of orthopedics for a few years. Dr. Gwetu explains how the class has brought much more practicality to their studies:
“Reading something in a textbook and seeing it are two different things. We mostly deal with trauma patients at the hospital, so we have not had much exposure to orthopedic cases. This is the first time we are receiving practical training, which most doctors in training travel from Zimbabwe to CURE Malawi for, and we are blessed to receive it right here at home.”
The need for pediatric orthopedic surgeons is great in the Bulawayo region, where CURE Zimbabwe resides. With most orthopedic surgeons practicing in Harare, many patients travel several hours to the capital to receive care in certain areas of orthopedic specialities. Dr. Mphoko is a surgical trainee and is optimistic that orthopedic care will be accessible in Zimbabwe as the interest grows among medical practitioners. A great need for this specialty calls for a great response and Dr. Mphoko believes the future of orthopedics is bright countrywide. Dr. Mphoko explains:
“There is an irreplaceable thrill when we see a child who cannot walk very well, and we help them to walk better. This specialty is growing, and I’m happy to see one other woman at this hospital taking on orthopedics. We need more female orthopedic surgeons!”
As the need grows for pediatric orthopedics in Zimbabwe, so does the interest among healthcare practitioners. Both Dr. Mphoko and Dr. Gwetu believe orthopedic care will be made available all over Zimbabwe thanks to training programs like this one. CURE Zimbabwe is invested in serving the children of Zimbabwe and strengthening the healthcare system of the country at large.
About CURE Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe
In 2020, CURE International joined with the Zimbabwe Orthopedic Trust to form the CURE Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe. The hospital is the newest center in the CURE network, opening its doors in April 2021 and specializing in the care of children living with physical disabilities. The hospital was refurbished by the Zimbabwe Orthopedic Trust in partnership with the Zimbabwean government and is located adjacent to United Bulawayo Hospital. The CURE Children’s Hospital of Zimbabwe is the first hospital in Zimbabwe that is dedicated to serve vulnerable children and families through the provision of orthopedic and spiritual care.