Breaking new ground with the BOSAD study in Ethiopia

In the heart of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a conference room buzzed with anticipation as Ethiopian trauma and orthopedic surgeons and other stakeholders gathered for the second Bone Setting Associated Disability (BOSAD) study review meeting. Representatives from eight host tertiary hospitals across the country, the Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Public Health Association, and the Ethiopian Society of Orthopedics and Traumatology (ESOT) came together to discuss the progress, challenges, and way forward in their mission to prevent musculoskeletal disability caused by traditional bone setting.

Dr Ephrem Gebrehana and Dr Mengistu Gebreyohanes, both from Hawassa, and the driving forces behind the BOSAD study, took the stage to open the meeting.

“Good morning, esteemed colleagues,” they began, their voices resonating with passion. “Today we gathered not only as medical professionals, but as pioneers in a movement to change lives. Our journey with BOSAD has been remarkable, and it’s time to reflect on our achievements and chart the course for the future.” A welcome speech was then delivered by Dr Geletaw Tessema, Ethiopian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (ESOT) President.

The meeting unfolded with presentations detailing the high rate of complications associated with traditional bone setting treatments. Surgeons shared their experiences and described the challenges they faced.

Dr Gebreyohanes then introduced representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Ethiopian Public Health Association, who expressed their support for the initiative.

As discussions continued, participants looked at strategies for expanding BOSAD to reach primary caregivers, teachers, parents, and children. They explored potential partnerships with regional and international organisations, increased public awareness campaigns, and the integration of BOSAD techniques into the wider health system.

A key highlight was the launch of both printed materials and an online application to provide basic knowledge about unintentional falls and injury prevention strategies, as well as a pre-hospital management package for school children. The materials are available in five Ethiopian languages. This initiative aims to decentralise expertise and ensure that even remote regions can benefit from this life-changing information. The meeting ended with a renewed sense of purpose and a collective commitment to expand BOSAD’s impact. Surgeons left the conference hall inspired and ready to return to their respective locations and implement the strategies discussed.

The BOSAD study has expanded its reach, breaking new ground in previously underserved rural areas. Through joint efforts, surgeons, public health experts, and Ministry of Health stakeholders will work together to make BOSAD an integral part of Ethiopia’s healthcare landscape, significantly reducing the disability associated with bone loss and empowering the injured to lead fuller, more active lives.

Meeting participants

Prof. Fentie Ambaw (Bahir Dar University, Lead of BOSAD qualitative study) presenting the results of the anthropological study

Printed material package for school children