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Longstanding Geisel DarDar Partnership Establishes Tanzanian Hyperbaric Treatment Center

A collaborative effort between Jay C. Buckey Jr. MD, professor of medicine at Geisel School of Medicine, and colleagues at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, has resulted in the opening of the first hyperbaric treatment center at Muhimbili National Hospital.

Sechrist Industries, a manufacturer of hyperbaric chambers donated the machine, and Wound Care Education Partners, a nationally accredited professional medical education organization, trained Tanzanian physicians and healthcare providers in basic hyperbaric medicine.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses a special high-pressure chamber to raise the intake of oxygen with each breath a patient takes. This extra oxygen provides immediate help in situations when blood supply or oxygen delivery is compromised such as with crush injuries, failing skin grafts or flaps, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Over time, the daily pulses of oxygen help restore blood supply and reduce inflammation in patients with tissue damage from radiation therapy, or with certain diabetic foot wounds. Sudden hearing loss of unknown cause, and some chronic bone infections are also applications.

Tanzania hyperbaric treatment

Because of Buckey’s expertise in hyperbaric medicine—he established the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center—and his long-term relationship with research partners at MUHAS, he wondered if they would be interested in establishing a hyperbaric treatment center in Dar es Salaam. They were.

“Their hyperbaric program is treating many of the same issues we treat here at Dartmouth—such as ENT patients who have complications from radiation for head and neck cancer or who experience sudden hearing loss. But it may also have potential for addressing conditions more prevalent in Tanzania such as sickle cell crisis and complications from sickle cell disease where blood supply has been compromised,” Buckey says.

Tanzania hyperbaric treatment

Albert Magohe, MD, MPH ’12, who co-led the effort, “has been a key force in developing the hyperbaric treatment center—his persistence and drive have been instrumental. Trained in the fundamentals of hyperbaric medicine, he is a major force in the day-to-day operations of the program.” Magohe, director of DarDar research projects, is among several Tanzanian medical and research professionals who have participated in Dartmouth’s MPH and PhD training exchange program then returned to Tanzania to help build research, education, and clinical programs.

For more than 14 years, Buckey and DarDar researchers at the Infectious Diseases Clinic in Dar es Salaam have been studying how measures of the brain’s ability to process sound could be used as markers of overall brain function in individuals living with HIV who are at risk for brain injury from the persistent infection and its treatment. Enica Massawe Richard, MD, who is the local PI on that project, is also an ENT physician who has helped to drive the hyperbaric program forward.

Jay Buckey
Jay C. Buckey Jr. MD

“Jay has been collaborating with colleagues at Muhimbili University through our DarDar Programs for years and this is a perfect example of what can result from a longstanding partnership: a first-ever service that has been traditionally only available in high-income countries is now available in Tanzania,” says Lisa V. Adams MED ’90, associate dean for global health, a professor of medicine, and director of Dartmouth’s global health initiatives. “The hyperbaric program stands to benefit many patients. Such advances in access to care are moving the needle towards our Center for Global Health Equity’s vision of a world with health equity for all.

“This is a beautiful result of Jay’s hard work, perseverance, and trusted collaboration with our partners there.”

Founded in 1797, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth strives to improve the lives of the communities it serves through excellence in learning, discovery, and healing. The Geisel School of Medicine is renowned for its leadership in medical education, healthcare policy and delivery science, biomedical research, global health, and in creating innovations that improve lives worldwide. As one of America’s leading medical schools, Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine is committed to training new generations of diverse leaders who will help solve our most vexing challenges in healthcare.