A medical Orthotist and Prosthetist intern from Port Elizabeth (PE) in the Eastern Cape made a breakthrough for South Africa at the Orthopaedie and Reha-Technik (OT) World Congress in Germany.

Yanga Sibidla (26) spent a week in Leipzig, where he presented his research report, Prevalence of Peripheral Neuropathy on the Contralateral Limb of Unilateral Diabetic Amputees, to 20,000 delegates. His paper was chosen from more than 200 submissions from 28 countries. Yanga said that the OT World 2014 presented a platform where he could engage with other professionals from around the globe. “I shared ideas and learnt about new technologies and techniques in patient care, which will definitely benefit South African citizens,” he says.

Yanga also received the runner-up position for the Best Young Person’s Presentation.  Another big achievement for him is that his research has been selected and provisionally accepted by the African journal of Diabetes for publication later this year.

Yanga conducted his study at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre  (KCMC) in Tanzania on diabetic amputees from around the Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions.  His research emphasized the importance and relevance of early diagnosis. While he was there, Yanga also learned how to design and manufacture artificial limbs and orthopaedic aids such as neck and backrests.

The results of Yanga’s research show that there is evidence of PNP (Purine nucleoside phosphorylase deficiency), on the contralateral limb of unilateral diabetic amputees and there is lack on patient education about PNP.

While doing his internship at the PE Provincial Hospital, Yanga is in his final year BSc honors.  Upon completing his honors degree, Yanga wants to continue with his post-graduate study to obtain his Masters. “I am still trying to get funding though,”  he says. Yanga is from a very poor community and financial support is non-existent. Yanga also dreams of opening a clinic in Port Alfred, in the Eastern Cape. “There is certainly a great need for that,” he says. “I dedicated myself to making the world a better place where people with physical disabilities have equal opportunities for full participation in society.”

Near future endeavours that Yanga is looking forward to, is the Africa Unite Rehabilitation Congress in Cape Town in September, presented by the International Society for Prosthetics & Orthotics in South Africa (ISPO SA). With the focus, “Solutions for Africa,” Yanga hopes to raise much more awareness on his research, as well as securing the sponsorship needed to further his studies.

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