Sustainable Orthopaedic Care in Tanzania

A team of Wharton first-years from MBA student group Wharton Global Health Volunteers traveled to Tanzania over winter break. Team members included Matthew Gorski, Christy Hong, Lisa Kapp, Michele Rudolph, Erica Swanson, and Eric Walter. We worked on the business plan for a proposed Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania. The project is part of the broader work of Global Orthopaedics, an organization led by Dr. Neil Sheth, M.D., Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. Global Orthopaedics is focused on increasing access to orthopaedic care.

In Tanzania, road traffic accidents can have a devastating impact on quality of life, causing orthopaedic injuries (e.g. bone fractures) that can leave a person disabled for life and unable to earn a living. Additionally, Tanzania has only 35 orthopaedic surgeons for a population of ~50 million people. In contrast, there is 1 orthopaedic surgeon per 11,000 people in the U.S. [AAOS].

Our team was tasked with putting together a business plan, financial model, and pitch deck to support Global Orthopaedics in preparation for a major fundraising effort. While on-site in Moshi, we met over 15 departmental leaders at KCMC to understand its current state of operations and gather data on costs, pricing, patient volumes, and reimbursements. Leveraging in-depth interviews and on-site data enabled our team to develop a comprehensive business plan for the proposed orthopaedic center. By being on-site, we also gained insight into the working environment at a hospital in Tanzania, which was essential to generate tailored solutions that would be sustainable for KCMC.


One key issue we tackled was that in northern Tanzania, supply of key inputs like orthopaedic implants (e.g. nails used to repair a broken bone) is not always consistent. Therefore, back in Philadelphia, we worked extensively with a network of different potential vendors for the Center (for example, medical device or pharmaceutical companies) to gather information on pricing and availability of various products and services that would be needed.

Another interesting aspect of the project was creating a sustainable pricing model. To ensure orthopaedic care is available to all Tanzanians, we calculated prices for three major pricing tiers based on patient willingness and ability to pay. By charging more to patients interested in additional amenities during their hospital stay, and using these funds to subsidize patients who would otherwise be unable to afford care, we were able design a pricing plan that provides care to all.

Finally, we analyzed the current state of health information systems (HIS) at KCMC and assessed several options for HIS solutions at the proposed Center. We learned that it’s key to ensure that any new solution implemented at the new orthopaedic center be seamlessly integrated with existing systems at KCMC – meaning that implementing an HIS at the new orthopaedic center may also require updates to existing systems.

We’re excited to see how our business plan is implemented and look forward to the opening of the Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence.