The NED foundation experience: A model of global neurosurgery

The Neurosurgery Education and Development (NED) Foundation (NEDF) started the development of local neurosurgical practice in Zanzibar (Tanzania) in 2008. More than a decade later, multiple actions with humanitarian purposes have significantly improved neurosurgical practice and education for physicians and nurses.

Research question
To what extent could comprehensive interventions (beyond treating patients) be effective in developing global neurosurgery from the outset in low and middle-income countries?

Material and method
A retrospective review of a 14- year period (2008-2022) of NEDF activities highlighting landmarks, projects, and evolving collaborations in Zanzibar was carried out. We propose a particular model, the NEDF model, with interventions in the field of health cooperation that have simultaneously aimed to equip, treat, and educate in a stepwise manner.

138 neurosurgical missions with 248 NED volunteers have been reported. In the NED Institute, between Nov 2014-Nov 2022, 29635 patients were seen in the outpatient clinics and 1985 surgical procedures were performed. During the course of NEDF’s projects, we have identified three different levels of complexity (1, 2 and 3) that include the areas of equipment («equip»), healthcare («treat») and training («educate»), facilitating an increase of autonomy throughout the process.

Discussion and Conclusion
In the NEDF’s model, the interventions required in each action area (ETE) are coherent for each level of development (1, 2 and 3). When applied simultaneously, they have a greater impact. We believe the model can be equally useful for the development of other medical and/or surgical specialties in other low-resource healthcare settings.

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