Review of Neurosurgery in the Democratic republic of Congo: historical approach of a local context

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



World neurosurgery




Democratic Republic of the Congo; healthcare resources; international community; key actors; neurosurgeons; neurosurgery; workforce


Neurosurgical practice in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is challenged by limited resources and infrastructure. The DRC has 9 local residing neurosurgeons for 95 million inhabitants, a ratio of 1 neurosurgeon per 10.6 million Congolese citizens. This is attributable to decades of political unrest and a loosely regulated healthcare system. Understanding the role of neurosurgery in a historical context is necessary to appreciate and overcome current challenges in the delivery of neurosurgical care. We describe past and present political, social, and economic challenges surrounding the development of neurosurgical practice and training. Highlights of early innovators, current challenges, and a suggested framework to guide future advances in neurosurgical practice are provided. Interviews with Dr. Antoine Beltchika Kalubye, the oldest living neurosurgeon in the DRC, and Dr. Jean-Pierre Kalala Okito, current president of the Congolese Society of Neurosurgery, provide a detailed account of events. Firsthand narrative was supplemented via literature review and collaboration with registrars in the DRC to review current neurosurgery programs. Our discussions revealed that decades of political unrest and inconsistent management of healthcare resources are responsible for the current state of healthcare, including the dearth of local neurosurgeons. The neurosurgery workforce deficit in the DRC remains substantial. It is essential to understand local neurosurgical history, in its present state and breadth of challenges, to inform future development of neurosurgical care and to secure equitable partnerships between local stakeholders and the international community.


Neurological Surgery