AOA Scholarship Awards at the SIGN Conference


The AO Alliance Hands out Scholarship Awards at the Annual SIGN Conference

From September 21-24, 2017, about 160 surgeons from low-income countries gathered in Washington State, USA to participate in the Annual SIGN Conference on the Treatment of Difficult Fractures Around the World. The event drew mostly surgeons and speakers from Africa and Asia, as well as some from the USA.


Photo 1: SIGN Group with participants. Photo 2: Wet lab. Photo 3: Susanne Baeuerle and AOA sponsored participants: Dr Ephrem Gebrehana, Dr Jocelyn Mutwiri, Dr Mamo Deksisa, Dr Giuseppe Gaido.

Dr Jocelyn Mutwiri, of the Cottolengo Mission Hospital in Meru County, Kenya, was sponsored by the AO Alliance (AOA) to attend the conference along with three other surgeons from Kenya and Ethiopia.

“I’m not a trained orthopedic surgeon, and I work in a county where we don’t have either an orthopedic or trauma surgeon. The ones there are visiting from other parts of the country and only work in private hospitals. The general surgeons in my county are the ones who take on orthopedic cases. I worked under a general surgeon who also did such cases, and who trained me. I took on the task because he was overwhelmed with general cases, and orthopedic trauma seemed to be neglected. In other words, I was drawn to trauma and orthopedic surgery because of the shortage of specialists,” said Dr Mutwiri.

Every year, the AO Alliance sponsors surgeons to attend the SIGN Conference to exchange knowledge and skills in dealing with fractures under diverse circumstances in developing countries, where resources are often scarce and access to specialists is often limited. By learning how to treat fractures using the SIGN system, surgeons can carry out up to 230 surgeries a year. According to SIGN statistics, the number of surgeries using intramedullary nails has now reached almost 200,000 since the device was launched.

“To my great surprise, the Anatomical Specimen Labs were also made available for a great number of surgeons. The organizers know so very well that surgical interventions have to be taught through practical lessons in order to address the ever-rising numbers of terrible accidents in low-income countries and war situations,” said Susanne Baeuerle, who attended on behalf of AOA.

At the “SIGN family dinner” for participants, faculty and donors, Susanne Baeuerle introduced the AO Alliance and presented the AOA Scholarship Awards to the four AOA sponsored surgeons from Kenya and Ethiopia.

For Prof Ram K Shah (AO Alliance Director for Asia), who presented a research paper on Poller Screw Fixation along with SIGN Nailing, the highlight of the event was the “hands-on anatomical specimen workshop on elbow fractures and the Ponseti technique of clubfoot deformity.” He added that “the instructional lectures by the American experts were highly useful for the participants from the rest of the world.”

About SIGN Fracture Care International

SIGN Fracture Care International is dedicated to creating equality of fracture care throughout the developing world. The SIGN team in Richland, Washington designs, manufactures, and donates innovative surgical implants, instruments, and training to under-resourced hospitals in developing countries. SIGN also teaches international surgeons how to use the implants to treat fractures of the arms and legs.