From rural Ethiopia to spine surgery fellowship in India: Dr Mengistu Gebreyohanes Mengesha

Dr Mengistu Gebreyohanes Mengesha, a trauma and orthopedic surgeon from Hawassa, Ethiopia, has been collaborating with the AO Alliance for a long time, as faculty, and as one of the lead investigators of the Bone Setting Associated Disability (BOSAD) study in Ethiopia. He is now embarking on a new journey: a spine fellowship at the Ganga Hospital in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India.

Growing up in rural Ethiopia, he completed his undergraduate medical studies in 2013, and postgraduate specialty training in trauma and orthopedic surgery at Addis Ababa University’s Black Lion Hospital in 2018. The same year, he followed the COSECSA fellowship training and obtained his certification in FCS (Ortho). In 2015, during his first-year residency in orthopedic surgery at Black Lion Hospital, he discovered the AO Alliance when attending the Pre-basic Fracture Management course. He subsequently attended multiple AO Alliance courses in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Switzerland, and was brought on board as faculty. After completing his residency three years ago, he worked at the Hawassa University Comprehensive Specialized Hospital as a trauma and orthopedic surgeon, managed the outpatient department, taught undergraduate and post-graduate medical students, and led multiple research projects.

He is the first Ethiopian surgeon to pursue a spine fellowship and is enthusiastic about what this can do for his country: “I decided to sub-specialize in spine surgery due the lack of advanced spine services throughout the country. Even though neurosurgeons are actively working to manage spinal trauma and conditions, spinal care needs far exceed what the healthcare workforce can provide. I will pay with all my sweat, determination, and hard work to achieve my dream of being a good spine surgeon and contribute to scaling up spine care in my country.”

The main challenges for spine surgery in Ethiopia are the lack of spine surgeons and other trained personnel to manage spine injuries and limited availability of surgical equipment. Mengesha concludes: “We will see what the future holds for me, but for now, I get the opportunity to gain experience in spine surgery and give back to my country.”

Dr Mengistu Gebreyohanes Mengesha

Dr Mengistu Gebreyohanes Mengesha (right) scrubs in for spine surgery at Ganga Hospital