Welcome from our Chair and Managing Director
The year 2015 marked the official launch of the AO Alliance Foundation (AOAF) and the start of a new future for many lives in Africa and Asia. Despite our fledgling status, we have already made an immediate impact on fracture care – one of the most neglected global issues –highlighting the need for healthcare standards to catch up with economic development. Through our first country initiative in Malawi, collaboration initiatives with different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and diverse strategic initiatives, AOAF has established a firm foothold in two continents and is well poised to empower more medical professionals in changing lives for the better in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) through education, fellowships, clinical research and infrastructure support.
Playing a unique and indispensable role in the global ecosystem of public health NGOs, we are determined to put a stop to avoidable mortality and disability by introducing standards of care for fractures that the developed world has long taken for granted. While development has certainly lifted many out of poverty, trends such as rapid motorization have left behind a trail of crippled lives, hobbling the prospects of families and entire communities. Indeed, trauma claims some 5.8 million lives annually and ranks third among causes of death for people under the age of 40 worldwide. As barriers to the transfer of knowledge and skills in fracture care are comparatively low, capacity building thus represents a sustainable and cost-effective approach to improving livelihood and wellbeing.
AOAF has come a long way – literally logging tens of thousands of miles – since December 13, 2014, when our “Founding Fathers” gathered in the Swiss alpine city of Davos and signed our Charter. They envisioned an independent organization that would build on the legacy of the AO Foundation (AOF) for improving fracture care around the world, while giving the cause the dedicated focus it needs and deserves. One of our first milestones was reached when the Board confirmed six LMICs in Africa and Asia – Malawi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Myanmar and Nepal – to be the focus of our initial efforts.
A highlight of AOAF’s achievements this past year was the establishment of core activities in Africa and Asia, highlighted by the launch of our first country initiative in Malawi. Initiated with the College of Medicine of Malawi and the country’s Ministry of Health, the Malawi Country Initiative is a 5-year project that aims to double the number of trauma and orthopaedic surgeons and residents focused on fracture care in Malawi. We achieved significant progress in another LMIC in Africa – Ethiopia. Building on our extensive network of surgeons and operating room personnel (ORP) in the country, we designed a blueprint for that country’s fracture care initiative and have begun implementation.
As a first step toward resolving disparities in global fracture burden, a trauma registry is being established in select medical institutions in Malawi and Ethiopia to identify common trends in diagnosis, management, complications and outcomes of orthopaedic trauma. We also developed “Fracture solutions for Africa”, a 3-year pilot programme aimed at reducing disability and mortality resulting from musculoskeletal trauma by improving clinical care provided by doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and first interveners through education and training.
Information sharing is a key dimension of capacity building. In 2015, we held more than 60 educational events, reaching over 6,500 healthcare professionals involved in fracture care in harsh environments across more than 25 countries. Furthermore, AOAF surgeons working and living in these forbidding conditions led the development of new content for the long bone injury curriculum. These educational initiatives not only helped to establish our reputation in both continents as an ethical and trustworthy partner, but also illustrated our philosophy: to support local healthcare professionals in finding solutions to local patient fracture care problems, using locally available resources.
Given limited resources, collaboration represents the best approach to delivering impactful programmes. This past year, we developed collaboration initiatives with a number of highly regarded partners, including the Australian Doctors for Africa (ADFA), the G4 Alliance, the UBS Optimus Foundation, Sesame Workshop (Sesame Street) and the AOF. We also worked closely with individual AO surgeons on projects that are dear to their hearts and make the most of their local knowledge and medical expertise. The use of technology is another important way of maximizing our reach. We are particularly encouraged by the enthusiastic response to our first webinar in October 2015, which connected 180 participants worldwide in exploring solutions to open tibia fracture management in low-income countries (LICs).
Looking ahead, we are excited to build on the excellent foundation laid in 2015. Besides continuing with initiatives already in place, we will be growing the scale and reach of our efforts across the six target countries. Among the new programmes will be the Ghana Country Initiative and “Paediatric fracture solutions for Ghana”. In Asia, we will establish a bioskills training centre in Yangon and develop a “Trauma roadmap for Myanmar”, drawing insights from a needs assessment exercise conducted during this past year. Previous activities existing under AOF will be completely transitioned into “Fracture solutions for Africa” and “Fracture solutions for Asia”. Needs assessments will be conducted in Ghana and Nepal as part of the groundwork for future projects.
These are only some of the activities planned for 2016. To raise awareness and ensure the long-term sustainability of our work, we will build on the successful launch of our website and explore ways to develop a suitable donation platform.
AOAF could not have achieved such a remarkable first year without the support of our staff and our extensive network of volunteer surgeons, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Always sharing in our vision, they contributed their skills and inspired us with their commitment to making a difference. For that and more, we offer them our sincerest gratitude. We would also like to thank the AOF and the Hansjörg Wyss Medical Foundation for their financial support, which made our successful start possible.
The financial performance was strong despite the challenges posed by increased activity and start-up operational demands. The Financial Result of CHF 1,570 million reflects the delayed start of certain country initiatives and larger projects. The ever-changing political and safety situation continues to add to this volatility. In presenting our work through this report, we wanted to share with you the inspiration behind our labour and hoped you would find in it reasons to support us in the future. Stay updated on our latest initiatives by visiting www.ao-alliance.org; and never hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and feedback.
Dr Rolf Jeker, Chair & Dr med Claude Martin jr., Managing Director
More than 60 educational events, reaching over 6,500 healthcare professionals…across more than 25 countries.