Orthopaedic Surgical Mission Brings Relief to Nigerians Suffering from Joint Diseases

Zimmer Supports GEANCO Foundation Orthopaedic Mission with Product Donations

Sep 09, 2011, 08:30 ET from Zimmer

CHICAGO and WARSAW, Ind., Sept. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The GEANCO Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare delivery for the people of Nigeria, is organizing a medical mission for two surgeons and fifteen support team members to travel to the West African country to provide orthopaedic treatment to patients suffering from disabling joint diseases.  Zimmer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ZMH; SIX: ZMH), a global leader in musculoskeletal care, will support the mission by donating orthopaedic implants and other surgical products.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, but the prevailing standard of specialty healthcare, including orthopaedics, is extremely poor.  Less than 200 trained orthopaedic surgeons currently practice in a country of more than 160 million people and their services are undermined by weak infrastructure.  As a result of limited access to domestic care, Nigerians currently spend more than $900 million annually on healthcare abroad, further diminishing investment in local infrastructure and medical training programs.

The GEANCO Foundation was established in 2005 by Dr. Godwin Onyema, MD and his family, with the long-term goal of improving the standard of care in Nigeria through the establishment of a world-class hospital facility in the country.  This facility would demonstrate the value of investment in local healthcare by the government and domestic benefactors, and would provide much-needed training to Nigerian health care professionals, administrators and others.  As the Foundation works to establish this facility, it coordinates medical missions to demonstrate to the Nigerian community the benefits of specialty healthcare and to make an immediate impact on the lives of Nigerians suffering from debilitating diseases.  

"Our medical missions to Nigeria are an essential part of our long-term program to provide Nigeria with a truly world-class medical care facility," said Afam Onyema, Chief Operating Officer of the GEANCO Foundation.  "Delivering sustainable, specialty healthcare to Nigerians will require the commitment of many organizations and individuals, and we are deeply appreciative of the enthusiasm and dedication of the surgeons and support personnel participating in our outreach missions."

Following the success of an orthopaedic mission involving surgeons from Chicago's Rush University Medical Center in 2005, this year's mission will see two orthopaedic surgeons from the OrthoCarolina Group in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center in Westminster, Colorado, travel to Nigeria to perform joint replacement surgeries on more than 40 patients from across Anambra State, a region of more than 4 million people serviced by a single orthopaedic practitioner.  In July, the surgeons traveled to Nigeria for a pre-mission trip to assess patient cases and plan for the upcoming surgeries.  

"These communities are in desperate need of orthopaedic care – in response to the mission's outreach via radio, text-messaging and word of mouth, more than 200 patients applied to participate in this program," said Dr. Neil Sheth, a surgeon with the OrthoCarolina Group.  "The severity of the cases we have seen in Nigeria is astonishing and we are looking forward to helping a number of these patients return to productive and active lives free from chronic pain."

During their week-long mission, the surgeons will perform hip and knee total joint replacements, as well as lower extremity trauma surgeries.  The mission is being made possible by donations from a number of groups including Zimmer, which will provide the orthopaedic implants and surgical equipment used on the mission.

"The core focus of the GEANCO Foundation – the delivery of high-quality health care to underserved populations – is closely aligned with Zimmer's corporate values and our mission to alleviate pain and restore mobility to patients around the world," said Jeffery A. McCaulley, President, Zimmer Reconstructive.  "Through the supply of medical equipment, Zimmer is proud to play a small part in the noble work of the GEANCO Foundation and the participating surgeons and their teams."

For more information on the GEANCO Foundation, visit www.geanco.org.  To learn more about how Zimmer is helping patients around the world to regain active lifestyles through advanced orthopaedic care, visit www.zimmer.com.

About Zimmer

Founded in 1927 and headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana, Zimmer designs, develops, manufactures and markets orthopaedic reconstructive, spinal and trauma devices, dental implants, and related surgical products.  Zimmer has operations in more than 25 countries around the world and sells products in more than 100 countries.  Zimmer's 2010 sales were approximately $4.2 billion.  The Company is supported by the efforts of more than 8,000 employees worldwide.

About The GEANCO Foundation

Founded in Chicago in 2005 by Dr. Godwin Onyema and his family, the GEANCO Foundation is dedicated to saving and improving the lives of vulnerable women and children in Nigeria.  GEANCO's directors hold degrees from Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown and University of Chicago.  GEANCO leads medical missions to Nigeria and organizes African Health symposia in the US.  The Foundation's current major project is the development of a world-class hospital — Augustine Memorial Hospital (AMH) — in southeast Nigeria.