The number of Newborns with neurological defects like Hydrocephalus (blockage of brainwater flow with increased headcircumference) and Spina Bifida (open back) is steadily increasing in Haydom Hospital, Tanzania. Mostly due to a deficiency in Folic Acid and Malnutrition of the pregnant women.

Little Christina was born in Haydom with an Encephalocele. This is a malformation that comes with a skull defect, and similar as in a hernia for example, parts of the covering brain membranes and braintissue is protruding out of the skull. In her case the defect was closed and covered with skin. The mother, who got abandoned by her husband and all her relatives right after delivery refused all attempts to send her to Arusha for a closure. She had no money for transport or operation costs and even with financial support she refused to go anywhere. She demanded to get the operation done in Haydom or she would leave the hospital and take the child home without further medical visits.


After counseling and many discussion we decided to do the operation in Haydom. Together with the Intern Dr.Tava, whom I am trying to teach during my stay here, so he can continue when I am gone, we closed the defect without further complications. An existing hydrocephalus was drained with a VP Shunt as well. The baby recovered well after surgery and was discharged home with a happy mom.

Theresa Operating

In August we are planning to invite all parents and children with Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida back for a week of lectures, practical training and teaching. Also 2 special trained Hydrocephalus nurses and Dr.Catherine a pediatric surgeon from Arusha will be attending and coming extra all the way to Haydom again like they already did in a previous Haydom Seminar week in February. In that week parents are supposed to create a social network gain hope and trust as well as knowledge in how to deal with the disease of their children.

If you wish extra information please feel free to contact me: I am happy to answer your questions or provide you with more details about our work here in Haydom Lutheran Hospital.

Dr. Theresa Harbauer