Bad Homburg v.d.H., October 21, 2019 – This year the Else Kröner Fresenius Award for Development Cooperation in Medicine 2019 is being presented to Dr. Martin Rohacek from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) for his project “Establishment and Organization of an Emergency Department at the St. Francis Referral Hospital in Ifakara (Tanzania)”.
The Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) foundation awarded the prize endowed with 100,000 euros to this Swiss internist and specialist in emergency medical care for his humanitary commitment and years of work in Tanzania. Since September 2015 Rohacek has been implementing the project there in close cooperation with the St. Francis Referral Hospital, other local partners and the University Hospital Basel.
The award ceremony took place on October 17, 2019 in Berlin at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (“BMZ”). The award was presented by Dr. Dieter Schenk, Chairman of the Foundation Council at the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, accompanied by Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Cooperation and Development. The keynote speech was given by Prof. Dr. Uwe Janssens, President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine. In his address he offered an insight into the discrepancy regarding intensive care and emergency medicine – an oversupply in Germany and “an inconceivably insufficient supply of medical care for human beings that prevails in many parts of the world.”
Award-winning project: Emergency Department in Ifakara
Dr. Rohacek has established an emergency room and ward station in rural Ifakara, including a triage system along with the diagnosis and treatment of meanwhile 36,000 adults and children each year. As Prof. Dr. Paris, Head of the Department of Medicine at the Swiss TPH, emphasized in his moving laudation, before the project commenced there had been no emergency medical care whatsoever in this region. In the meantime the hospital serves as an assignment center for a rural poulation of roughly one million people. The emergency department operates on a three-shift basis, 24 hours a day, and is run by local physicians.
“Even though emergency medical care is being increasingly perceived as the central building block of the healthcare system in developing countries, only very few hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa operate an emergency department employing a triaging of patients. The award-winning project consequently acts as a beacon and fills a relevant gap in the emergency medicine on offer,” explains Dr. Judith von Heusinger, who is in charge of medical/humanitarian development cooperation at EKFS.
Dr. Rohacek trains medical staff at the St. Francis Referral Hospital in the fields of emergency medicine, ultrasound technology and echocardiography, and also conducts clinical research projects. “Around 100,000 patients from three districts in a 150-kilometer radius have benefited from the project until now,” Rohacek emphasizes. “The patients are often very sick. Most frequently we treat infectious diseases, but heart disease and gynaecological illnesses are on the agenda, too. Ten percent of the patients come to us due to an accident,” the physician goes on to explain. “These people, most of them seriously ill, need help in a hurry. The longer one waits with the diagnosis and appropriate therapy, the less likelihood that the patient is going to survive.”
Dr. Rohacek has introduced two key diagnostic methods in the course of the project. Echocardiography is able to provide clarity concerning cardiovascular problems. And life-threatening conditions such as inner bleeding can be quickly identified and treated with the help of ultrasound imaging. “The staff handles the equipment quite confidently. That’s a result of the intensive training, which is another core element of the project,” Rohacek points out.
10 clinicians and 13 healthcare professionals at the St. Francis Hospital have received training in emergency medicine, ultrasound or echocardiography. 40 young physicians were able to acquire several months of hands-on experience at the emergency department after concluding their studies. In the meantime, the Emergency Department in Ifakara has a role-model character. The Tanzanian Ministry of Health is planning a nationwide expansion in alignment with this standard.
Strengthening local structures, improving patient care and training healthcare professionals
The prize money is intended to be used particularly towards setting forth and intensifying the training of medical personnel in Ifakara on a long-term basis, as well as to train more local instructors in emergency medical care and ultrasound technology. “The project contributes towards strengthening local structures and improved patient care. The focus on training healthcare professionals in the energency department is intended to achieve sustainable successes,” Dr. von Heusinger emphasizes.
Notes for editorial desks – Key data about the awards ceremony
Award: Else Kröner Fresenius Award for Development Cooperation in Medicine 2019
Award-winner: Dr. Martin Rohacek, Project Manager of the Emergency Department at St. Francis Referral Hospital in Ifakara, Tanzania, and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
Project: “Establishment and Organization of an Emergency Department at the St. Francis Referral Hospital in Ifakara (Tanzania)”
Award Ceremony: October 17, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (“BMZ”) in Berlin, incl. speeches by:
- Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Cooperation and Development, on the topic of “Development Cooperation in the 21st Century”, and
- Prof. Dr. Uwe Janssens, President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, on the topic of “Oversupply here – Lack of resources there.”
Else Kröner Fresenius Award Award for Development Cooperation in Medicine
EKFS presents the Else Kröner Fresenius Award for Development Cooperation in Medicine each year, a prize that acknowledges particular commitment in the field of development cooperation. Projects worldwide are honored which serve to improve healthcare in an outstanding way. The award is endowed with 100,000 euros – money that is utilized directly for the projects. Each year the competition for the award is announced involving a different thematic emphasis; the announcement takes place in the spring.
About the Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung (EKFS) foundation – Advancing research. Helping people.
The Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, a non-profit foundation, is dedicated to the funding of medical research and supports medical/humanitarian projects. The foundation was established in 1983 by entrepreneur Else Kröner and appointed as her sole heir. EKFS receives virtually all of its income in dividends from the Fresenius healthcare group, in which the foundation is the majority shareholder. To date it has supported around 1,780 projects. With an annual funding volume of currently more than 50 million euros, the foundation is one of the largest in Germany that actively supports medicine. You can find more information at: www.ekfs.de.
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