Once upon a time...

Madaktari Africa was founded by neurosurgeon Dr. Dilan Ellegala while on medical sabbatical in 2006 in rural Haydom, Tanzania.


During his first week there at Haydom Lutheran Hospital, as he was volunteering and performing procedures, Dr. Ellegala noticed that while many doctors like himself came from overseas for a few weeks or months to perform much needed procedures and provide care to an underserved population, the real, fundamental challenge faced in Haydom was not being directly addressed. 


He knew in that first week that he would be leaving soon.  And though he and others have come to this rural area and saved lives, he wondered, what happens when we leave? When we're gone, who will do the shunts, the craniotomies, and other needed procedures?


Dr. Ellegala realized that the underlying problem--limited access to medical expertise in rural sub-Saharan Africa--was being treated with outside help, but it was not being solved.  The doctors who were bringing medical expertise in to the country were doing great things, but the problem of healthcare access in Haydom remained after the doctors traveled back home.  

Dr. Dilan Ellegala (left)

 With this in mind, Dr. Ellegala took notice of a man named Emmanuel Mayegga who was part of the local hospital staff, and had several years of clinical training under his belt, but he was not trained in neurosurgical procedures.  One day, after a morning meeting, Dr. Ellegala spoke to hospital advisor and former Mayor of Haydom, Naftal Naaman, and suggested, "Tanzanians should be doing these procedures.  Let's train Mayegga". Mayor Naaman and Emmanuel Mayegga both agreed with Dr. Ellegala, and the work that would soon be synonymous with Madaktari began. 


Dr. Emmanuel Mayegga

After weeks of intensive neurosurgical training, Dr. Ellegala and Mayegga were working together in the operating room.   And that afternoon, for the first time, Mayegga would be the lead surgeon. Under supervision Mayegga would be tasked with performing a shunt, a relatively simple procedure by Western standards, but still brain surgery.


It indeed proved to be a big day at Haydom Lutheran Hospital. Nurses and other members of the hospital staff gathered around the operating table, and Mayegga intently performed the procedure and installed the shunt flawlessly.


Everyone in the room smiled and shook hands, while Dr. Ellegala stepped away and clapped his hands loudly.  He shouted, "You've got yourself a neurosurgeon now! I'm leaving!” 


Through this, Madaktari Africa and its "Train-Forward" model was born.  And since that day, many assistant medical officers, doctors, and nurses have been trained, so that they can continue to train the next generation.  

Travel back in time with us and take a minute to watch this movie we made back in 2009! 

And for those who speak kiswahili or want to learn, here is a short movie with President Kikwete. 




The complete and deeply compelling story is captured in this book: 


A Surgeon in the Village: An American Doctor Teaches Brain Surgery in Africa


Now available on Amazon.com

Madaktari Africa

PO Box 3440

Lynchburg, VA 24503

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Madaktari Africa is a 501 (c)3 organisation