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Kenya needs 60 more neurosurgeons to meet WHO threshold

Dr Florentius Koech (right), a neurosurgeon and spine expert accompanied by Ayub Ndanyi, a nurse at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG
Dr Florentius Koech (right), a neurosurgeon and spine expert accompanied by Ayub Ndanyi, a nurse at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG 

Kenya requires at least 60 neurosurgeons to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) threshold, according to a top Ministry of Health official.

Director of Medical Services, Jackson Kioko, said the country is facing an acute shortage of the health specialists despite rising neurosurgery cases linked to road accidents.

“Currently, we have only 18 neurosurgeons serving 45 million Kenyans . . .  This is a big variance considering there are increased incidence that require the attention of a neurosurgeon such as brain and spinal cases linked to road accidents (boda boda accidents) and other health conditions like cancer,” noted Dr Kioko during a neurosurgery conference in Eldoret.

Deaths from lifestyles diseases like cancer and heart diseases continue to rise, reflecting the public health crisis at a time the country is reeling from shortage of doctors. This is made worse by poor diet and sedentary lifestyles.

The WHO recommends at least one neurosurgeon for every 200,000 people in a country.   

"In East Africa with 27 specialists, one neurosurgeon serves over 11 million...because of the shortage, 56 per cent of patients with severe injury die after 24 hours,” said Dr Kioko. 

He added: “Ten years ago, we had only two neurosurgeons. This is a great milestone but we are still far from achieving the WHO requirement. . .  at the ministry level, we are looking into those sub-specialties needed in the country then direct our finances to train more so that we increase the number and bridge the gap.”

Statistics released last month from police and the National Transport and Safety Authority showed that 1,852 people suffered severe injuries through road crashes this year. Another 2,101 suffered slight injuries.

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