There are fewer than 400 pediatric neurosurgeons for the majority of the world’s children, and they often work alone, without the support and collaboration that is vital to optimal outcomes.
There is nearly a 50-fold difference in access to neurological care in the US compared to the rest of the world.
Hydrocephalus: the most common neurosurgical brain condition in children
Every year, nearly half a million babies will be affected by hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain,” most of them from lower-income countries that make up the majority world — countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Left untreated, half of them won’t live to see their second birthday and the other half will be severely disabled—cognitively impaired, spastic or blind. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the most conservative estimates place the annual economic impact of untreated hydrocephalus at around 2 billion US dollars.
Left untreated, half of infants with hydrocephalus won’t live to see their second birthday, and the other half will be severely disabled.
A high-maintenance treatment
Until now, the primary treatment for hydrocephalus has been the placement of a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. Studies have shown that, even in the most optimal environments, more than 40% of those shunts will fail in the first two years, as many as 80% by 10 years, and most patients will require multiple surgeries over time. The complications of shunt malfunction and infection are usually manageable when access to advanced neurosurgical care is available on an urgent basis. But in many parts of the world, this is out of reach for most families, making shunt-dependence an ongoing life-threatening condition in these situations.
We want to change the end of this story.