Villagers in rural Africa spend a lot of time on their feet, working in the fields or walking where public transportation is sparse. A child with an orthopedic deformity is at a serious disadvantage in such an environment.

Surgery and other treatment are readily available in Western countries, but much less so in Africa. And doctors in Ethiopia have difficulty traveling abroad for training. That was the impetus behind a course organized by Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

Some 50 doctors from Ethiopia and neighboring countries participated in the four-day seminar – the first of its kind in Africa – to train pediatric physicians how to fix foot problems.

The course was hosted at Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa and sponsored by CURE International, a nonprofit organization that assists children in developing countries suffering from medical issues. Another partner was the Pediatric Orthopedics Society of North America.

Prof. Mark Eidelman, director of pediatric orthopedics at Rambam’s Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital, led the training along with Drs. John Herzenberg and Christof Radler from the United States. Already at the hospital are two British doctors who relocated to Ethiopia several years ago to help local medical teams receive the latest treatment tools.

“There are many people in Ethiopia with problems that are taken care of in other countries at much earlier stages,” explained Eidelman. The new training will help patients “enjoy a higher quality of life and prevent their conditions from deteriorating.”

Eidelman says he hopes to return to Ethiopia “in the near future … to train additional doctors.”