Monday in Namibia: Meetings and Patient Screenings

We started work in earnest today, starting with some of the doctors going to the medical school for a tour and to watch students do presentations.

Several of us then went to the Ministry of Health, where we met with Minister of Health and Social Services the Honorable Dr. Bernhard Haufiku and Permanent Secretary of Health Dr. Andreas Mwoombola. We had the opportunity to learn more about the medical system throughout the country and the Minister's plans for the future. There's a lot going on toward improving medical care overall, including setting up an orthopedic center of excellence. This, of course, is of great interest to our team and we're happy to have the opportunity to play even a small part of these efforts.

Members of the IEP team with Dr. Mwoombola and
Honorable Minister Dr. Haufiku.

The Ministry of Health is working to renovate hospitals and build state-of-the-art operating rooms to treat patients and train doctors.
If we have an opportunity in our schedule one or two of us hope to go further north to visit a facility closer to the Angolan border. The Namibian health system treats patients who come from other countries. In fact, up to 40% of the patients in the northern clinic are from Angola.

After our meeting, we met up with the rest of the team at Katatura Intermediate Hospital, our home base for the next two weeks. We spent the afternoon screening patients.

Screening involves an initial conversation with the patient or caregiver to collect demographic details and basic information about why they've come to see the IEP team. From there, we take photographs of the patient and his or her affected feet and ankles. Next, the surgeons evaluate each patient with an exam that includes taking measurements, testing strength, assessing gait, and learning more directly from the patient. Some patients arrive with x-rays, while others will need to get them throughout the day.

In all, we screened nearly 50 patients and have identified a few more than 30 for surgery. The local and regional doctors did a lot of work to identify surgical candidates for us, which really helped us to focus on those we're most likely going to be able to help. We have nine surgeries scheduled for tomorrow with varying degrees of complexity. After meeting so many deserving patients, the team is ready to get started.