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Our graduate scholars are saving children's lives

Dr Alicia Massenga is one of the first paediatric surgeons to graduate after receiving a Kids Operating Room scholarship, and she now works as a fully qualified children's surgeon in Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania, home of one of the latest KidsOR Operating Rooms.

We love that one of our scholars is now working in one of our Operating Rooms! Helping local surgeons care for local children is the sustainable vision at the heart of what we do. Below is an update from Dr Massenga on her work.

“I would like to start by thanking Kids Operating Room for their financial support during my paediatric surgery training. After finishing my studies, I organised a children’s surgery camp at Bugando Medical Centre with visiting paediatric surgeons from Muhimbili National Referral Hospital in Dar Es Salaam. We saw 46 patients, aged up to 8 years, operating on 30 of them. These children have been waiting for surgery for a long time. Some of the patients were supposed to be in school, but because of their congenital anomalies - especially in the gastrointestinal system - they have stomas which mean they are unable to attend.

Although we worked on many children in a short time, we did not manage to work on all patients who were waiting for surgery and so I have organised another camp.

Successful completion of my studies has benefitted our community in the following ways:

Child patients get the specialist care they need

    Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) provides health services to a population of almost 17 million, almost one third of the total population of Tanzania. These children need dedicated surgery services. My presence will enable them to get these services and avoid delay in joining school.

    Knowledge transmission to the junior doctors

      BMC is also a university teaching hospital. Students need to get exposure to paediatric surgery and, now that we have a paediatric surgery unit in the hospital thanks to KidsOR, they can learn in the unit.

      Long-term planning for training paediatric surgeons

        Paediatric surgeons are still few, that is why we have a long-term plan for training more. My training will help us to have more dedicated surgeons who will work on the kids even in the lower level hospital. When the number of children’s surgeons increases, it will help kids to have timely management of their surgical conditions which will improve their outcome and reduce morbidity and hospital stay as well.

        Whenever there are successes, there are also challenges. To meet the need of the number of child patients we have in Tanzania we need more dedicated operating rooms for children and surgical ward space too, and we don’t have a paediatric anaestheologist. My young patients are still mixed with adults in the same ward. Though I have not yet got solutions for these challenges, I will continue to work and using existing or available resources. I'm happy that Kids OR has helped my hospital to equip an operating room and my thanks go to the KidsOR team for this big support.”

        We are so grateful to Dr Massenga for updating us on her progress and the wonderful work she is doing to save and change children’s lives in Tanzania, and look forward to sharing more updates with you in future.

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