Neurosurgery, in one form or another, has a long tradition in Kenya. Early skull trepanations in Kenya were reported by previous studies, which reveal that these procedures have a long tradition, being passed down from generation to generation. Modern neurosurgical development in Kenya has its origins in the late 1940s when the first elective neurosurgical procedures were performed by Dr. J. F. Jarvis, Chief of Head and Neck Surgery at the now Kenyatta National Hospital, when he operated on anterior encephaloceles, and later also performed anterior third ventriculostomy for hydrocephalus. Formal neurosurgery developed from these initial steps, with the arrival of the first trained specialist, Dr. Renato Ruberti, whose pioneering efforts resulted in the founding of the Neurological Society of Kenya (NSK), the Pan African Association of Neurological Sciences (PAANS), and the African Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (AFNS). The last quarter of the 20th century has seen the progress of neurosurgery reach its present respectable levels, with dedicated and well-trained Kenyan neurosurgical specialists focusing not only on its practice but diligently pursuing its development 1).

A shortage of neurosurgeons and a lack of knowledge of neuroendoscopic management of hydrocephalus limits modern care in sub-Saharan Africa. Hence, a mobile teaching project for endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) procedures and a subsequent program to develop neurosurgery as a permanent specialty in Kenya and Zanzibar were created and sponsored by the Neurosurgery Education and Development Foundation (NED) and the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery. The objective of this work was to evaluate the results of surgical training and medical care in both projects from 2006 to 2013.

Two portable neuroendoscopy systems were purchased and a total of 38 ETV workshops were organized in 21 hospitals in 7 different countries. Additionally, 49 medical expeditions were dispatched to the Coast General Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya, and to the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar.

From the first project, a total of 376 infants with hydrocephalus received surgery. Six-month follow-up was achieved in 22%. In those who received follow-up, ETV efficacy was 51%. The best success rates were achieved with patients 1 year of age or older with aqueductal stenosis (73%). The main causes of hydrocephalus were infection (56%) and spina bifida (23%). The mobile education program interacted with 72 local surgeons and 122 nurses who were trained in ETV procedures. The second project involved 49 volunteer neurosurgeons who performed a total of 360 nonhydrocephalus neurosurgical operations since 2009. Furthermore, an agreement with the local government was signed to create the Mnazi Mmoja NED Institute in Zanzibar.

Mobile endoscopic treatment of hydrocephalus in East Africa results in reasonable success rates and has also led to major developments in medicine, particularly in the development of neurosurgery specialty care sites 2)

Waveru et al., conducted a retrospective multicentre cross sectional study involving patients admitted with SAH to three referral hospitals in Nairobi. All patients with a confirmed (primary) discharge diagnosis of first-time SAH between January 2009 and November 2017 were included (n = 158). Patients who had prior head trauma or cerebrovascular disease (n = 53) were excluded. Telephone interviews were conducted with surviving patients or their next of kin to assess out-of-hospital outcomes (including functional outcomes) based on modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores. Chi-square and Fisher's exact tests were used to assess associations between mortality and functional outcomes and sample characteristics.

Of the 158 patients sampled, 38 (24.1%) died in hospital and 42 (26.6%) died within 1 month. In total, 87 patients were discharged home and followed-up in this study, of which 72 reported favourable functional outcomes (mRS ≤2). This represented 45.6% of all patients who presented alive, pointing to high numbers of unfavourable outcomes post SAH in Kenya.

Mortality following SAH remains high in Kenya. Patients who survive the initial ictus tend to do well after treatment, despite resource constraints. : The study findings should be interpreted with caution because of unavoidable limitations in the primary data. These include its retrospective nature, the high number of patients lost to follow up, missing records and diagnoses, and/or possible miscoding of cases 3).

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Qureshi MM, Oluoch-Olunya D. History of neurosurgery in Kenya, East Africa. World Neurosurg. 2010 Apr;73(4):261-3. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2010.02.014. PubMed PMID: 20849774.
Piquer J, Qureshi MM, Young PH, Dempsey RJ. Neurosurgery Education and Development program to treat hydrocephalus and to develop neurosurgery in Africa using mobile neuroendoscopic training. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Jun;15(6):552-9. doi: 10.3171/2014.10.PEDS14318. Epub 2015 Mar 6. PubMed PMID: 25745948.
Waweru P, Gatimu SM. Mortality and functional outcomes after a spontaneous subarachnoid haemorrhage: A retrospective multicentre cross-sectional study in Kenya. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 12;14(6):e0217832. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217832. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 31188844.
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