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Dr Leonard Banza: helping children with disabilities in Malawi [21 Stories]

Posted on: Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Shortage of medical specialists means that many people with disabilities, or at risk of disability, can’t access vital treatment. Dr Leonard Banza, an orthopaedic surgeon, whose training was sponsored by CBM, describes how his work changes the lives of people living with conditions like club foot in Malawi, often in areas far from specialist hospitals.

Dr Banza, orthopaedic surgeon in Malawi“I am here because there is a big need. That is why CBM decided to send me. I am based at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. I work as a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and Head of the Orthopaedic Department.

In the Central Region of Malawi, which is home to 7 million people, there are just 3 orthopaedic surgeons. Across the country as a whole the ratio is also very low, with only 11 orthopaedic surgeons for 17 million people.

Apart from my hospital work, for the past 4 years I have been the only orthopaedic surgeon going all over the Central Region and part of the Northern Region of the country to assess and treat adults and children with physical disabilities. My other two colleagues are mainly hospital based.

Changing lives

Malawian people are very appreciative and thankful because they see the positive impact of CBM’s presence.

There have been many cases that have really made an impact on me. But let me mention one- an 11-year old girl who had severe neglected clubfoot. Nobody else wanted to operate on her in the district, saying it was too severe and too late. She stopped going to school because of the stigma. We operated and 5 months later she started going to school again. Her going back to school was exciting for me because I didn’t want her disability to be a stumbling block to her education and to her future. Without education, many young girls in Malawi go into early marriages, destroying their future which can often lead to poverty.

Clubfoot is still present here because we cannot stop it. However, the numbers of neglected cases have reduced tremendously. Other common conditions we have been dealing with range from congenital, neurological and infection to neglected trauma cases.

My personal message to CBM UK supporters

I am very happy to say that since 1998 when I first came across CBM my experience has been very positive and inspiring. You need to have a big heart to work with people with physical disabilities. I thank God because he has given me love and passion to assist my brothers and sisters of all ages using my little skills that the Lord has given me through CBM.

I would like to say a big thanks to CBM UK’s supporters. Their love, prayers and support are changing lives in this part of the world, even if they do not see it. We strongly do believe that the most high God will bless and reward each and every single good deed, big or small.”

This is one of the 21 Stories. Read more stories celebrating those who have shaped our work