Mozambique has had a severe shortage of surgeons for years. Today, there are fewer than 20 practicing surgeons for a population of 25 million people.
The country has come up with a pragmatic approach—it trains health workers, called technicians, who are not doctors, to do a range of lifesaving surgery. These technicians, who focus on either obstetrics or general surgery, perform the vast majority of operations in the country, particularly in rural areas. Studies have shown their patients are no more likely to have complications or infections than those treated by Mozambican surgeons.
At the 100-bed Chokwe District Hospital, two technicians, Victor Muitiquile and Nilza Munambo, handle all of the surgery. They often lack basic supplies and medications. Even the electricity is spotty.