I discovered that Tanzania then had just three neurosurgeons for a nation of about 43 million people. That’s one neurosurgeon for every 12 million people. Compare that with one neurosurgeon for every 85,000 Americans.
When I was in Tanzania, I faced a choice. I could treat as many patients as possible or take a different approach with a more long-lasting effect. So I did something that might horrify many Americans, especially medical school deans: I taught brain surgery to an assistant medical officer named Emmanuel Mayegga, a talented clinician who had yet to get his medical degree. Mayegga learned basic brain surgery, and he has been saving lives ever since. Here’s where things get even more exciting. Mayegga taught a second Tanzanian, who in turn taught a third.