For many years, the AOF has been working in the developing world, mostly through the AO Socio Economic Committee (AO SEC). Maintaining a presence in 18 countries in Africa, nine in Asia Pacific and one in Latin America, the AO SEC worked diligently to improve fracture care in LICs by providing education and training for surgeons and operating room personnel (ORP).
To strengthen the AOF’s engagement in developing countries and to further build on its invaluable work, the AOF created the AOAF. As a completely separate legal entity from the AOF, AOAF will wholly dedicate itself to improving the care of musculoskeletal trauma and neglected trauma cases (i.e., new and old injuries to long bones in the arms, legs and hands, as well as injuries to the spine, face and head) in LMICs – initially in Africa and Asia.
On December 13, 2014, the “Founding Fathers” of AOAF signed our Charter and formally established the new Foundation. Those were: Chris Colton, Paul Demmer, Norbert Haas, James Hughes, James Kellam, Peter Matter, Joseph Schatzker, Chris van der Werken, John Croser, René Marti and Hansjörg Wyss.
Although only officially launched in January 2015, AOAF had already started to perform country needs assessment work in Malawi and Myanmar, two of our initial target countries. At the same time, we began developing the key curricula items needed to create customized fracture care education for LMICs. From that point, AOAF assumed all of the 2015 scheduled activities of the former AO SEC.
The initial funding for AOAF comes from two major sources: the AOF itself and the Hansjörg Wyss Medical Foundation. Through philanthropy and fundraising initiatives, and with the support of the strong AOAF network of surgeons and collaborators, AOAF will be able to dedicate the bulk of its efforts to capacity-building programmes. Our ambition is to become a household name for elevating fracture care in the developing world by being “recognized as a partner that is a real alliance, working with local surgeons on 3- to 5-year programmes to build sustainable local capacity”.
AOAF’s dedicated team is headed by our Managing Director, Dr med Claude Martin jr. (former AOTrauma Executive Director), who has been working exclusively with us since the end of January 2015. He is supported by Polly Bühler, Project Coordinator, who previously worked for the AO SEC.
Surgeon leadership in Africa and Asia is vital to implementing and delivering AOAF projects and programmes. Dr Jim Harrison (UK), Director for Africa, Dr Wilfred Addo (Ghana), coordinator for English-speaking Africa, Dr Sylvain Terver (France), coordinator for French-speaking Africa, and Dr Ram K. Shah (Nepal), Director for Asia, form the key pillars driving the network in these two continents.
Our ever-increasing network of healthcare professionals, volunteers and contributors, covering more than 20 countries in Africa and eight countries in Asia, should ensure the success of our mission over time.
Our ambition is to become a household name for elevating fracture care in the developing world.