return to home →

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 5,000 lives have been saved, ten surgeons from nine 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 5,000 lives have been saved, 10 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

phone: 1-717-743-3065

for Supporters

Q: What can $1,750 do?

A: Save a child's life.

What your $1,750 does

A gift of $1,750 allows CURE to provide this life saving procedure to a child.

What we'll do for you

As part of our commitment to you, we'll provide you a picture and a brief story about the specific child your gift helped to heal.

Donate Now

Q: What can $103K do?

A: Train and equip a surgeon.

What your $103K does

The cost to train and equip a doctor to treat hydrocephalus is $103,725. Each doctor trained by CURE's hydrocephalus program will save the lives of untold thousands of children. Through this program, CURE provides not only the training but the equipment to do the job as well as ongoing maintenance of the equipment.

What we'll do for you

CURE will provide the name and location of the specific surgeon trained via your gift, and for the following three years after training, we'll provide annual reports on the results of that surgeon.

$103K will

$45,725 Training Costs

Training costs of the 12-week program include airfare, transportation, accommodations and meals, trainee stipend, hospital administration staff expense, medical equipment usages and supplies, technology and academic resources, program administrative support, and medical faculty expenses.

$58,000 Equipment & Setup

Upon completion, CURE supplies the equipment and supplies to treat hydrocephalus cases as well as ongoing maintenance of the equipment and patient identification support.

Find Out More:

For more information on becoming a donor, contact:

Charles Howard

Operations Director — CURE Hydrocephalus

phone: 1-717-743-3065


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.

What YOU Provide

To qualify for this training program you must:

  1. Have a national certification to perform surgery
  2. Have an employer willing to host the program at a hospital
  3. Be proficient in English

What CURE Provides

After completion of the CH training program, CURE will provide ETV equipment for ongoing use at the by the surgeon at their home institution. CURE will also provide the capability to capture and report on data. A care coordinator will be placed with the trained doctor to act as patient and family counselor. The care coordinator will serve the patients social and spiritual needs. Finally, CURE commits to work with the medical equipment manufacture and the host site to keep equipment current and operational.

Application & Materials

If you would like to be considered for admission into this training program, download, read and complete both the application and the memorandum of understanding.

Apply Now

Get Involved:

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

Charles Howard

Operations Director — CURE Hydrocephalus

phone: 1-717-743-3065