The Third World Spine Care Botswana Spine Care Conference
“Creating a country wide program for the prevention of spine disability”
On May 7 and May 8, 2018 World Spine Care, in cooperation with the Botswana Ministry of Health organized the Third World Spine Care Conference at the Gaborone International Convention Center in Botswana. The first World Spine Care conference was held in 2013 and the second conference in 2016. Those initial conferences were in the town of Mahalapye where WSC opened its initial spine care program and clinic. The past conferences drew over 100 participants. This third conference was attended by over 300 registrants, mostly from Botswana and who work in the Botswana government health care system. It is reported to have been the largest health care or medical conference to be held in the country of Botswana and demonstrates the impact that the World Spine Care program has had in this country.
The Third Botswana conference was presented with the support of, and in collaboration with the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness that provided the venue and the catering for the conference. The conference speakers and WSC costs were supported by grants from the European Spine Journal, the Chiropractic Association of South Africa, the North American Spine Society, the Association of Academic Physiatrists, the South African Spine Society, and Spinalis, a Swedish not-for-profit organization providing care for spinal cord injuries in Botswana.
The opening statement and welcome to Botswana was presented by the Honourable Dr. Alfred Madigele, the Minister of Health and Wellness for Botswana. Remarkably, Dr. Madigele stayed for 2 hours to hear the opening plenary sessions of the conference in order to understand better the nature of the problem being addressed.
The conference attracted 22 speakers from 10 countries who delivered had an outstanding program, the topics of which covered the various levels of spine care. The topics in the plenary sessions discussed the interventions and patient management that could be expected in the primary, secondary and tertiary spine settings.
The impact of the WSC program could be seen by the fact that there were a number of speakers from Botswana. They included: Vincent Setlhare MD, Acting head of Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Botswana; Tiro Mmopelwa MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Gaborone, recipient of the first WSC advanced spine surgery fellowship at the Ankara Spine Institute; and Hildah Molate DC, MPH, BNS, RN, PN, recipient of the first World Spine Care Scholarship for professional training in spine care who had just graduated from Palmer College in Davenport Iowa.
The program also included speakers from the Spinalis Botswana Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Project. This project is a partnership between the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Spinalis Foundation in Sweden. The aim of the project is to build capacity for comprehensive spinal cord injury rehabilitation within the Botswana Public Health Care Services. The Spinalis Project Coordinators Inka Löfvenmark RPT, PhD. from the Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, Sweden and Katarzyna Trok MD from the Karolinska Sjukhuset Neurologiska Kliniken, Stockholm, Sweden were joined by Kobamelo Sekakela MD, from the Spinalis Botswana Rehabilitation program at the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone and provided insight on the problems faced by patients with spinal cord injuries.
On the second day there were detailed workshops on “the clinical examination of a patient who presents with spine related symptoms”, “the non-surgical management of patients with spine pain”, “spine surgery, when, why, how” and “spinal cord injury and rehabilitation”. The conference concluded with a panel discussion on “Implementing a policy for preventing spine disability, what are the corner stones?”
Conference videos and presenter handouts will be available soon from the 2018 Botswana Spine Conference page.