Despite dreams of exam stars, we’ve only 18 neurosurgeons

Neurosurgery ranks up there with pilot and actuarial science on the list of careers that Kenyan children aspire to.

Which makes it ironical that Kenya has only 18 practising neurosurgeons.

This despite the ever-increasing number of brain and spinal cord injuries.

According to Health ministry data, there is no neurosurgeon based in Nyanza, Western, North Eastern, Coast, Eastern, and Central regions.

Of the 18 in the country, 15 are at the Kenyatta National Hospital  (KNH) and the Moi Teaching and Refferal Hospital  (MTRH).  Kijabe Mission Hospital has one and the remaining two are in private practice.

Global ratio

According to the WHO recommendations, Kenya requires at least 56 neurosurgeons to get closer to the global ratio of at least one neurosurgeon for every 200,000 people.

Other countries

To achieve this, Kenya needs to hire at least 200 neurosurgeons for its 45 million population.

At KNH, the few neurosurgeons  attend to 10 to 15 cases of penetrating head injuries.

These are the same specialists who attend to patients from other countries including South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia.

Because of the shortage of specialists, 56 per cent of patients with severe head injuries are not attended to for long, hence die within 24 hours.

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