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OUTETA, a new initiative by MWADETA for better treatment accessibility.

MWADETA forms a team of experts to reach and train referral hospitals, aiming to enhance the accessibility of SBH treatment services in Tanzania

OUTETA (Okoa Ubongo Team Tanzania) is a multidisciplinary team that deals with treatment and training about Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida for health providers in referral regional hospitals in Tanzania, such as surgery, clinic, rehabilitation, and education on Continence Management.

OUTETA was founded on 10th August, 2023 by Dr. Gerald Mayaya (Neurosurgery expert at Bugando Referral Hospital), and Mr. Walter Miya (founder of MWADETA). OUTETA’s primary goal is to train healthcare providers in referral regional hospitals around the lake zone on managing Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida, safe anesthesia practices, among other areas. Following extensive discussions on challenges faced by parents and referral hospitals like distance, financial constraints, patient overcrowding, and treatment delays, OUTETA was established to address these issues. The team aims to extend accessible services to 11 regions, with 6 of them located in the Lake zone.

OUTETA’s three-month capacity-building program at Sekou-Toure Regional Referral Hospital aims to enhance the availability of SBH treatment services in Mwanza.

The decision for OUTETA to focus on the Lake zone primarily stems from the current situation at Bugando Regional Referral Hospital. Facing difficulties in treating SBH patients, OUTETA chose to step in due to various challenges, such as overcrowding, parents’ struggles with treatment and follow-up due to distance and financial limitations, delays in treatment evidenced by statistical data indicating 20% receiving early treatment below 6 months of age and 80% receiving late treatment above 6 months, insufficient knowledge and skilled healthcare providers in managing SBH cases, and more.

The program consisted of comprehensive training and close monitoring of 50 trainees that included surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, social welfare, physiotherapists, and registrars. The team from Sekou-Toure Regional Referral Hospital were very keen to learn how to manage Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida cases. Following a five-day training session, the team started conducting surgeries under the guidance of the OUTETA team.

Over a span of three months, SRRH successfully operated on 26 children with Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida. The initial 10 surgeries were conducted collaboratively by both OUTETA and SRRH teams for hands-on training. The remaining 16 surgeries were carried out by SRRH trainees with intensive supervision from OUTETA. Upon completion of the program, OUTETA confidently affirmed that SRRH was fully capable and skilled to offer comprehensive SBH treatment services.

OUTETA’s intervention had specific purposes some of which are; to ease accessibility and distance for some parents, early treatment within 24 hours, to shorten process of surgery to 2-4 days, proper follow-up 6 times a year, early diagnosis of complication and intervention, decongestion at the hospitals, to join efforts with the government in improving the treatment of SBH, and to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates.

Also, Bugando’s Director Dr. Fabian A. Massaga had this to say: ”At Bugando Medical Centre, we have observed a significant influx of patients with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (SBH) across the Lake Zone region. Unfortunately, many of these patients face delays in seeking treatment due to distance and financial constraints, leading to various complications and post-surgery challenges. To address this issue, Bugando, in collaboration with MWADETA under the Neurosurgery Department led by Dr. Mayaya, initiated a capacity-building program at Sekou-Toure as a pilot project of OUTETA. This program aims to support the government’s efforts in enhancing infrastructure and human resources at regional referral hospitals. By providing specialists to train doctors, surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists, our goal is to empower these healthcare professionals to effectively manage SBH cases within their respective regional hospitals. Through this initiative, we anticipate a reduction in delayed presentations, loss of follow-up, as well as morbidity and mortality rates among children in our community. We express our gratitude to the management of Sekou-Toure for their collaboration and support.”

Representatives from Houses of Hope Kitongo and Nyegezi attended the program to ensure that all children under their care at the Houses of Hope, who were scheduled for surgery, were admitted promptly. They oversaw the registration process and procedures to prepare the pediatric wards for the children.

OUTETA expressed their gratitude by stating, “On behalf of Bugando Medical Centre Management, the Neuro Department, and Mwanangu Development Tanzania, we extend our thanks to CHILD-HELP for their financial support in conducting the OkoaUbongo (Save the Brain) Team Tanzania (OUTETA) training program. This initiative aims to enhance the management of Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida cases, with the ultimate goal of reducing morbidity and mortality rates in Tanzania.”