AO Alliance Leadership Profile: Prof. Joachim Prein Vice-Chair, AO Alliance (2015-2018)

Prof. Joachim Prein

Prof. Joachim (Jochen) Prein has had an illustrious surgical and educational career spanning five decades. A pioneer in the field of craniomaxillofacial (CMF) surgery, his journey to making an indelible mark in this field began when he and Prof. Berton Rahn initiated studies looking at the healing patterns of mandibular bones at the AO Research Institute in Davos in 1970. They wanted to prove to a skeptical medical community that stable internal fixation using plates and screws could be introduced to maxillofacial injuries. In 1973, they presented their results at the German Society for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery congress in Basel. “It revolutionized the world very much,” he states. The first AO CMF course was held in Davos in 1974. He went on to become a founder of AO CMF, when it became a clinical division of the AO Foundation in 2008, and its first chair, spearheading CMF education around the world.

After presiding over AO International from 2005 to 2006, Jochen was elected as vice-chair in 2007 when it was renamed AO Education. It was during his tenure in that role that he developed an avid interest in fracture care education being carried out in sub-Saharan Africa by AO Alliance’s predecessor, the AO Socio Economic Committee (AO SEC) ”“ a small unit of AO. “They were doing tremendous things in Africa,” he recalled, wondering how the activities could be further scaled up. He was chair of AO SEC from 2009 to December 2014, when AO Alliance was created, taking over the activities of AO SEC and expanding them to include other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa and in selected countries in Asia. He sat on the AO Alliance Board as vice-chair from 2015-2018, lending his expertise and guidance not only as a surgeon but also as a teacher and leader. Although no longer directly involved with AO Alliance, Jochen leaves an immesurable legacy for our work in LMICs through a partnership between the Alliance and AO CMF, delivering resource-based training tailored for resource-poor settings. Essentials in Facial Injuries, the course curriculum developed by CMF surgeons for LMICs, was designed to be adaptable to AO Alliance faculty and local surgeons’ needs for the advancement of the care of the injured through local capacity-building.

“Indeed, the driving force of AO Alliance is our mission to build local capacity. The legacy we strive for in the LMICs in which we are active is a lasting one; a healthcare workforce that is able to treat fractures at the right time and with appropriate methods on one hand, and on the other, a pool of healthcare workers that has the skills necessary to effectively train its peers and the next generation of healthcare workers, and so on. So that what we have created is a favorable environment for access to quality trauma care and ultimately the best outcomes for the injured. The rapid increase in road traffic accidents in LMICs and their struggle to cope, with limited human resources, makes AO Alliance’s work all the more necessary and important,” Jochen concludes.

Joachim Prein with Abdoulie Janneh, member of the Board

Joachim Prein with Polly Buehler, Senior Manager Education & Communications