Assessing the Economic Impact of a Proposed Orthopaedic Surgical Center in Moshi, Tanzania




Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine

Project Summary

This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to work under Dr. Neil Sheth, the chief of orthopaedic surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, on a project to build an orthopaedic center of excellence in Moshi, Tanzania in conjunction with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC). Currently, 5 billion people worldwide lack access to safe and affordable surgery, of which 90% are located in low-and-middle income countries. Injuries constitute a large part of this disease burden, and due to the rampant growth of using motorized vehicles in the developing world, countries such as Tanzania have experienced spikes in road traffic accidents with subsequent patient morbidity and mortality. With only 25 orthopaedic surgeons in the entire country, Tanzania is not currently equipped to meet this skyrocketing disease burden – the supply does not meet the demand.

 A proposed orthopaedic center of excellence that implements a tiered pricing model and works through a partnership with 26 teaching hospitals, has the potential to not only increase local capacity over time but also give patients the ability to afford their orthopaedic healthcare.

My roles this summer were multi-faceted. I assisted with producing an impact multiple of money calculation, a value that would allow for impact funds to assess their return-on-investment not solely through financial metrics but also through the social impact their investment could yield per dollar. In addition to this, I worked on studying model organizations that have implemented tiered pricing models all over the world to understand the logistics and nuances of managing a price sharing surgical center. Finally, I conducted background research on the healthcare infrastructure in Tanzania to obtain inputs for the financial model used to model the orthopaedic center of excellence.

I was also given the chance to shadow Dr. Sheth in his clinic as well as when he was performing surgery in the operating room. My PURM funding allowed me to go with Dr. Sheth’s team to Moshi, Tanzania to meet: the current KCMC clinical team, the leaders in charge of financial governance for KCMC, as well as potential local synergistic partners for the proposed center.

Before joining the project, I had known that I wanted to go into medicine and work in global health, but I did not have a very concrete picture of what that would look like. This Summer allowed me to realize a deep interest in surgery and how to use business tools to democratize access to healthcare. Though it’s cliche, I can confidently say this summer has been life-changing. I now have a clearer vision for how to merge my interests in medicine and business to increase healthcare access in impoverished regions. I will even be going back to Tanzania next summer to continue working on this project, and I’m excited for what we will accomplish in that time.