Spinalis in Namibia
On October 18, 2013, the country’s first spinal cord injury unit “Spinalis SCI Unit” opened at Windhoek Central Hospital in Namibia. A Swedish team, specialized in SCI care and rehabilitation, consisting of physicians, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, and rehab coach were in Namibia for three months to assist with the establishment of the unit, sharing knowledge, and transfer skills.
The project was a collaboration between the Ministry of Health in Namibia and the Spinalis Foundation, partly funded by Sida, but was also made possible by the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund. Spinalis had in the past three years, worked successfully with building such a clinic in the capital of Botswana, Gaborone.
The project in Namibia was short, but the Swedish team was positive for the future of the unit. Now Namibians who sustain a spinal cord injury will have access to appropriate care, rehabilitation, and technical aids, that means an improved chance for a better life-situation, returning to society, and surviving.
The foundation is also happy to congratulate our local doctor Michael Jairo for finalizing his specialization in South Africa. He has now become the first local neurosurgeon in Namibia and is back at the hospital and a great support for the SCI unit.
The Spinalis Foundation continue to follow-up and support the unit and staff, even if the project has ended. The last visit in Windhoek was in March 2020 when Katarzyna and Inka (international coordinator of Spinalis Foundation) was there. There are several remaining challenges for patients, relatives, and staff, such as lack of staff in the overall public health care, retaining staff and level of knowledge, continuing development, and continuity of delivery of technical aids and consumables. However, the situation is still substantially better compared with prior to 2013.
The Swedish team:
Katarzyna Trok, MD
Evelina Laasonen, Physiotherapist
Anna-Karin Gustavsson, Occupational therapist
Malin Nordin, Nurse
Pelle Vesterlund, Rehab coach
Niklas Larsson, Assisting educator
Göran Lagerström, Project leader