Salambo discovering Ethiopia
Last week, my nine year old son broke his arm. In many parts of the World, it is not a big deal as the medical set up is there to provide emergency treatment so parents wouldn’t think twice about it. In Ethiopia, the situation is slightly different because of lack of general medical care. Routine things like a broken arm can potentially have serious consequences if not treated well. It is not infrequent that an arm has to be broken again because it was not set right the first time round (at least I heard that same story several times).
Luckily now, we have the Cure Hospital, a private paediatric hospital funded by Cure International, the Non-Government Organisation (NGO) specialised in orthopaedic treatment for children. The NGO was established as a philanthropic project to help under-priviledged children in the developing world by treating birth defects such as clubfoot or cleft lip and palate. In Addis, they also run a private wing treating routine injuries such as broken arm or leg, which contributes to financing the main hospital. Private patients contribute to about 10 to 15 percent of the hospital’s running costs and for now, they intend to keep it at that level to be able to continue to focus mainly on local patients with serious disabilities and in need of more complicated orthopaedic surgery.
The day I took my son there, we saw a number of children in the waiting room with serious disabilities, some of them, waiting to be examined, were in a plaster cast from feet to waist. It made me realise that my son’s broken wrist was only a minor injury. Still, he was treated by Dr Rick, one of the head surgeons in the clinic and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. He recently moved from the UK with his young family to take the job in Addis. He personally put the cast on my son’s arm while explaining to his Ethiopian assistant how to put it for maximum effect. Part of his job is also to train national staff. Being very talkative, he told me about the cases he had to treat, especially children from rural areas who are completely ostracised from their community because of their very apparent physical deformities, such as clubfoot which prevents them from walking normally let alone running. The treatment is changing their life.
For more information, you can consult www.cure.org/ethiopia/