Direct Relief published an article that discussed the high incidence of life-threatening neural tube defects in Ethiopia and efforts to prevent these defects through food fortification with folic acid.
Excerpt from the article
Dr. Koning started a foundation, ReachAnother, designed to help train Ethiopian neurosurgeons who could perform these essential procedures. Today, six different surgical centers throughout Ethiopia have specialists in pediatric neurosurgery who are trained to operate on neural tube defects.
But it turned out that the more surgeons there were, the more demand there was. The waiting list seemed never-ending. At one point, Dr. Koning recalled, there was a waiting list of about 1,000 children who needed surgery.
“We realized that there were a lot of kids in Ethiopia with spina bifida” and other neural tube defects, he said. Parents simply hadn’t been bringing their infants into hospitals because, until the training program began, there weren’t surgeons to treat them.
With no options, parents had simply been bringing their babies home to die.
Dr. Koning explained that though Ethiopian doctors were likely aware of the problem, awareness hadn’t risen to a larger, systemic level. “Gradually, this created a groundswell of awareness,” he said.