Subspecialty pediatric neurosurgery training: a skill-based training model for neurosurgeons in low-resourced health systems
There is inadequate pediatric neurosurgical training to meet the growing burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Subspecialty expertise in the management of hydrocephalus and spina bifida—two of the most common pediatric neurosurgical conditions—offers a high-yield opportunity to mitigate morbidity and avoid unnecessary death. The CURE Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida (CHSB) fellowship offers an intensive subspecialty training program designed to equip surgeons from LMIC with the state-of-the-art surgical skills and equipment to most effectively manage common neurosurgical conditions of childhood. Prospective fellows and their home institution undergo a comprehensive evaluation before being accepted for the 8-week training period held at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda (CCHU) in Mbale, Uganda. The fellowship combines anatomy review, treatment paradigms, a flexible endoscopic simulation lab, daily ward and ICU rounds, radiology rounds, and clinic exposure. The cornerstone of the fellowship is the unique operative experience that includes a high volume of endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization, myelomeningocele closure, and ventriculoperitoneal shunting, among many other procedures performed at CCHU. Upon completion, fellows return to their home institution to establish or rejuvenate a robust pediatric practice as part of a worldwide network of CHSB trainees committed to the care of underserved children. To date, the fellowship has graduated 33 surgeons from 20 different LMIC who are independently performing thousands of hydrocephalus and spina bifida operations each year.