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About Hydrocephalus

A cutaway illustration of a child's skull and brain

cerebrospinal fluid



What is Hydrocephalus?

Infant hydrocephalus is one of the most common abnormalities affecting the nervous system of children around the globe. Sometimes referred to as "water on the brain," infant hydrocephalus can exist at birth or be acquired. Hydrocephalus is an abnormal medical condition that develops when the normal flow and absorption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain is hindered or blocked resulting in excessive accumulation of fluid in the ventricles of the brain. Left untreated, in addition to pain and suffering, infant hydrocephalus leads to significant brain damage, severe developmental delay, blindness, and ultimately death.

Q: Why is this such a problem in developing nations?

A:Neurosurgical care is sadly lacking in the developing world.

out of approx 400,000 newborns with hydrocephalus born this year 79% will be born in the developing world

Hydrocephalus goes mainly untreated in developing countries because neurosurgical care is simply not available. This year alone, CURE conservatively estimates that nearly 400,000 newborns (3/1,000 births) will suffer from infant hydrocephalus around the globe and over 310,000 (79%) of these children will be born in the developing world with limited or no access to critical life-saving care.

A pie chart showing the split of 79% without proper care available versus 21% who benefit from neurosurgical care available

% of the approximately 400,000 babies born this year with hydrocephalus will be born in developing countries with little or no access to neurosurgical care. Many will die.

% born in developed nations who have the benefit of proper care.

Number of Trained Neurosurgeons

1:90,000 vs 1:10,000,000

Ratio of neurosurgeons per population in the United States

Ratio of neurosurgeons per population in Uganda

Children suffering from hydrocephalus in the developing world have not been a significant priority for governments' Ministries of Health, major global actors in world health, or other international development groups to date. CURE Hydrocephalus is steadily gaining attention of government and large capacity donors in its efforts to address the needs of these underserved children and expand the medical infrastructure to address this significant global health concern.

About the CURE Hydrocephalus Program:

CURE Hydrocephalus is a division of CURE International committed to saving lives by eliminating untreated hydrocephalus and its preventable causes through training, treatment, and research. Since 2000 through efforts emanating from CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda (CURE Uganda) in Mbale, over 14,000 lives have been saved, 24 surgeons from many different countries have been trained, and ground-breaking research has been shared through publications in peer-reviewed journals.

CURE Hydrocephalus is expanding that 10-year proof of concept to impact more of the developing world.

Since 2000 over 14,000 lives have been saved, 24 surgeons have been trained, and ground-breaking research has been shared.

CURE Hydrocephalus has been launched to develop a world-class network of Hydrocephalus Treatment Locations (HTLs) in the developing world that target the following primary program pillars:


Expanding access to life-saving surgical treatment for children with hydrocephalus


Strengthening national health systems by training and equipping national surgeons from the developing world to provide advanced surgical treatment methods for hydrocephalus

Research and Prevention

Developing the IT infrastructure to capture patient data to facilitate research with CH's strategic partners in an effort to advance the understanding of the causes, best treatment practices, and effective methods of prevention of post-infectious hydrocephalus

Compassionate Care

Demonstrating compassionate care and concern for the world's most vulnerable children

CURE Hydrocephalus patient Tom, with his mom after being healed.CURE Uganda medical director John Mugamba operating on a patient.CURE Hydrocephalus patient Tom, sitting in school with his peers.
Doctors at CURE Uganda performing surgery on a child with hydrocephalusA close up shot of two doctors at CURE Uganda in the operating theater. In the background there is an x-ray of the head of a child who has hydrocephalus

CURE Hydrocephalus Surgeon Fellowship Program and Strategy:

The centerpiece of the surgeon training, and CURE Hydrocephalus's strategy, is a shunt-less surgical technique and the methodology for its proper use based upon the work and research of Dr. Benjamin C. Warf, who served as CURE Uganda's first medical director. Dr. Warf, now with Children's Hospital of Boston and Harvard Medical School, passed his leadership mantle to Dr. John Mugamba, Ugandan-born, South African fellowship trained neurosurgeon. Dr. Warf serves as CURE Hydrocephalus senior medical director and chair of its medical advisory board.

CURE Hydrocephalus intends to attract substantial funding to expand its capacity to train more surgeons, equip them with technology and proper support for that technology, train staff to team with the surgeon for care coordination to holistically address patient's needs, and gather data to monitor safety and quality and to support clinical research.

Find Out More:

For more information about CURE Hydrocephalus, please contact:

Charles Howard

Operations Director — CURE Hydrocephalus


for Doctors

The Opportunity

The CURE Hydrocephalus Surgeon Fellowship Program is a unique way to apply your skills as a doctor to serve this critical need around the world. As a member of this program, you'll be equipped to with the knowledge and tools to save thousands of children's lives each year.

CURE Uganda medical director John Mugamba operating on a patient.
CURE Hydrocephalus patient Tom, sitting in school with his peers.CURE Hydrocephalus patient Tom, with his mom after being healed.

The Training Program

The CURE Hydrocephalus Surgeon Fellowship Program is 12 weeks in duration on site at a CURE Pediatric Neurosurgical Hospital facility. Each trainee will be required to complete a minimum of 50 ETV cases and 25 shunt placement procedures in order to successfully complete the program under the direction and approval of the Medical Director Faculty.


Interested applicants should be the primary surgeon treating hydrocephalus at a center that is performing a minimum of 100 surgeries per year.

Apply Now

Get Involved:

For more information on getting involved as a doctor, contact:

Charles Howard

Operations Director — CURE Hydrocephalus