Mission in Bubanza |  from October 9th to 23rd, 2023 


The five participants were: myself, Dr. Alfredo Antonucci, an anesthetist, Dr. Vittorio Podagrosi, a surgeon, and his kind spouse, Mrs. Rita el Mounayer, and Mrs. Francesca Pacini, formerly the head nurse of the Intensive Care Unit at San Gerardo Hospital in Civitavecchia.
The mission, following Dr. Piero Petricca’s foundation “Andare Oltre” unfolded constructively and purposefully.
There’s a pressing need to develop a therapeutic protocol for us doctors who, in various missions, find ourselves dealing with two of the most widespread, devastating conditions in the region: hematogenous osteomyelitis and skin ulcers.
I share a brief account I hastily wrote upon my return, starting with the small protagonist, believing it speaks volumes about our motivations.


Pietro Ortensi


Jean Bosco

His name is Jean Bosco, like the saint founder of the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, but for us, he is “the Kamikaze” due to the dressing on his forehead, which, with a certain imagination, resembles the “headband of commitment (hachimaki)” worn by Japanese pilots who launched themselves, without escape, against enemy ships.
JB, the little warrior, delivered a strong blow that resulted in a small wound (three stitches of thin nylon), an inevitable side effect of his exuberant, uncontrollable, smiling vitality.
Friendly, affectionate (he often runs to hug us with sudden assaults), he is the opposite of those poor, small beings we are accustomed to seeing in their suffering, shamelessly and disrespectfully exposed, often for instrumental purposes.
Emaciated children with bellies swollen with ascitic fluid (like a cirrhotic adult), breathless from pneumonia, abandoned, crying, with runny noses.
Certainly, these are real images linked to poverty, war, and their dramatic consequences, but I find the monotonous use made of them wrong, to the point of creating, in those unfamiliar with that reality, the belief that African children are primarily or only those.
Near the Hospital of Bubanza in Burundi where we operate, there is a school attended by many very young students in light brown uniforms: a simple jacket and shorts.
From the corridor and the operating room, you can hear the energetic chant of the students memorizing (as was done in the past to learn multiplication tables: the basis of elementary mathematics).
One day, leaving the hospital just as classes ended and the students happily exited, finding myself among them, I had the questionable idea of giving some of them candies (always present in the lab coat pocket to “console” the little patients).
I had to run away to escape the joyful assault of cheerful, lively young people, similar (I believe) to their peers around the world.
Capable of playing with humble objects: an old, irrecoverable bicycle tire skillfully rolled with a stick, a ball made of rags rolled up to kick for an impromptu game. A small patient “kicked” alone, laughing at a balloon made by inflating a surgical glove.
Many of their peers here play with sophisticated, expensive electronic devices that they quickly tire of and lose interest in: something is not working.
Clearly, here we persist in seeking well-being and happiness, which all humans legitimately seek everywhere, in the wrong direction, which does not pay.
Humanitarian mission? Better to call it health collaboration. A phrase that defines our actions in a more balanced, real, and respectful way, with the intention of dissociating ourselves from any “colonialist” allusion.
We bring our baggage of knowledge and experience, which would otherwise be lost or scrapped (like a still valid car that can still cover many kilometers but no longer circulates due to new rules) for those of us who are retired.
We do our job, treating pathologies that are rare for us, sometimes only present in medical books. A different philosophy in action is necessary, having to deal with a reality where it is often difficult to follow patients for a long time and therefore directs us towards therapeutic choices, as much as possible, that are conclusive.
A true and challenging, daily and direct way for us doctors and nurses coming from such a different, changed reality.


MISSION IN BURUNDI | 15 july – 15 august 2021


Though I thought it would not be possible due to problems related to the pandemic, I returned to Burundi after 3 years. On this mission I represented FIMAC ONLUS and I travelled with 5 members of the ANDARE OLTRE ONLUS Foundation. They included Dr. Piero Petricca (head of the mission), Dr. Viola Colombi, Dr. Cristina Sciarra, Giovanni Battista Tibaldi, orthopedic technician and Giuliana Gaggin, physiotherapist. The singularity of this mission is the work involved in the construction and application of limb prostheses, finding both Giovanni and Giuliana at the forefront. This work was an old dream of Dr. Monti and thanks to the commitment of Dr. Petricca and his talented collaborators, this project has become a reality.
An area was made available by the hospital administration for a small orthopedic workshop with basic equipment and materials. The demand for limb prostheses is great as amputations are frequent. This practice is much more extensive than in Italy, due to the difficulty or impossibility of practicing conservative treatments that require frequent visits with patients and to the lack of equipment (i.e. hyperbaric therapy). Furthermore, the severity of trauma such as open fractures or pathologies such as osteomyelitis, chronic ulcers are the cause of the frequent amputations. Prosthesis can be found in Burundi but they are very expensive and, judging from what we have seen, not of very good quality. Amputee management involves a multidisciplinary approach. It is a question of fine-tuning the amputation technique with the needs of the prosthetic as made by the orthopedic technicians. In addition, the most frequent causes that make additional surgery necessary are surgical revision of the stump, the fibula is too long when doing an amputation, problems with the bone stump and neuromas.
The Hospital Administration is preparing a new ward that will probably be named after Dr. Monti and consist of single rooms with services.
This is a long, awaited mission that will be useful and stimulating for new projects.

Pietro Ortensi


MY BURUNDI EXPERIENCE – Bubanza Hospital | January 5-19, 2020


Yet another fantastic experience in Burundi. While not easy and with a thousand difficulties, it was also full of joy and satisfaction! I shared this time with friends, Francesco, Achille, Stefano and Anna, a scrub nurse, whose enthusiasm, competence and humanity was a precious contribution. All happy and filled with what this land and its people give, but all too aware of the limits dictated by contingency and by the various local situations. There was not and certainly would not be, a manifestation of clear-cut orthopedic procedures. We all know that the reality we find is more like a war zone. We must consider the immense limitations an African hospital, which, regarding this facility, is at a good level. A really nice group, joined initially by Patrizia and Gianluca, was enthusiastically surrounded by a constant whirl of smiles, supported by the unforgettable messages of love from, above all, the children, the orphans, the patients and their families who repaid our work with expressions of gratitude that are priceless and that no one can ever take from our hearts. Thanks to all our “group” you were really great.

Cosimo Tudisco



Expectations: helping people in difficulty.
Reality: mixture of events and emotions were so many in so few days and were difficult to sort-out.
The introduction to the infirmary of the nuns of Mother Teresa of Calcutta was tough. I learned immediately not to be scandalised by disease, pain, or the awareness of the inevitability of some situations.
The hospital in Bubanza provided a steep learning curve for me. I learnt (or at least tried to learn) to stay in my place, do my part, with the awareness of having little to give, but knowing that little would be really useful.
The streets, the school, the orphanage was painted with a reality that after 15 days I began to feel as mine. My team was my home and my example. I had the chance to observe doctors at work from another perspective; they acquired in my eyes even more esteem, respect and admiration.
“This Is Africa” or TIA is a phrase used to help people adjust their expectations of Africa. Africa for me will remain the place where suffering and smiles, sweat and fatigue, tension and fun, introspection and conviviality, hope and resignation, pretension and gratitude, wealth and poverty have taught me to sort out my own existential priorities, to be grateful, to be proud of my profession and grateful to have had this opportunity to question myself and above all to understand what is ASSISTANCE. I know for sure that I have received more from Africa than I have given.
Thank you, See you soon

Anna  Tagliaferri



A New Mission was made this past December to the Hospital of Bubanza by Stefano Carbone, Fabio Barbanti and Pietro Ortensi

Christmas in Bubanza. We had the pleasure of experiencing the charm and magic of the most important Christian holiday at the Diocesan Hospital of Bubanza. The sung mass, celebrated at the cathedral, is one of the most important socialising occasions for all – mothers elegantly dressed, cheerful and festive children, the men dignified and composed – and us, who although certainly integrated, are always the object of a certain amused curiosity.
Our mission was very productive as 21 operations were performed on various orthopedic pathologies. I would like to note the importance of our treatment of Osteomyelitis (OM). Operations were executed on new patients and follow up surgeries, consisting of the removal of the antibiotic cement, were carried out.
We also brought purchased material for the hospital, three new stainless steel containers used for the sterilization of surgical instruments, an emergency light for the operating room and various sterile material like dressings, and medication kits consisting of gauze, and disposable plastic pincers.
We also brought clothing and toys for the children of the orphanage run by the nuns of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and writing supplies for the school of Bubanza. We returned to Italy on December 30th with the desire to return soon to Burundi to continue our work.

Pietro Ortensi

News from theIAPCO | May 2018


The Bubanza Hospital, supported by FIMAC, International Foundation of Doctors for Central Africa, is a major institution dedicated to the health of the local community. IAPCO endorsed and supported FIMAC’s work at this hospital contributing to the management and care cost of hospital beds. In addition, as part of the strategy to improve healthcare and wellbeing, a basketball court was built, funded by IAPCO members, and completed in 2017.

Articolo tratto da www.iwacu-burundi.com ORTHOPAEDICS: GOOD SAMARITANS FROM ROME
di Joanna Nganda

In Burundi due ortopedici italiani aiutano l’Africa a tornare di nuovo a CAMMINARE. I medici romani provano a ridare un futuro ai piccoli di quel paese. Intervengono su patologie endemiche e sui traumi lasciati dalla guerra. Hanno costruito un ospedale. Portano a Roma i casi più gravi, operano e assistono. Grazie a due fondazioni e alla generosità dei donatori.
di Mario Pappagallo

Solidarietà. La straordinaria esperienza di un ortopedico volontario in Burundi. CURO L’AFRICA E LEI CURA ME “E’ un impegno massacrante, ma alleviare il dolore di chi non ha nulla è più rigenerante di una beauty farm”, racconta Francesco Falez, Primario e Ricercatore di fama mondiale.
di Rita Cenni

Why Africa?

What happens to a trauma victim of a serious leg fracture when it is not “reduced” leaving the bone stump piercing the skin? Or a burn victim with a hand injury that is left untreated, destroying the surrounding skin, leaving exposed tendons and bones? How far behind will an adult be who is living in the middle of the third world with severe lameness due to uncorrected “clubfoot”? Consider that his congenital deformity could have been treated when he was a child, perhaps, as in many cases, without surgery. For a doctor who practices in Italy you can only imagine the answers, perhaps with the help of images of some old textbooks. In Burundi, you can experience the answers. There you can see the natural evolution of a trauma, an illness, a congenital defect left without the treatment that medicine can offer. In our countries basic care is assured. Doctors and health centres support a system that does not leave patients without care. In countries where we operate, the presence of a doctor, a nurse and the necessary equipment is a rare thing and can make the difference between life and death. From these considerations, it is easy to imagine the usefulness of our presence in Burundi and the great satisfaction we derive from our work.

Dr. Pietro Ortensi

Under the guidance and company of Professor Monti, I started going to Burundi about two and a half years ago, when my father suggested that I try this experience. Since then, I have been there four times, going twice a year, and in about a month I will go on another mission. I cannot stay away more than six months from the land, from the people, from that world totally different from the one in which we live. Of course, when I go there and spend almost three weeks (more or less the duration of each mission) I cannot wait to go home, because it is not easy to be away from one’s normal life and loved ones. But invariably, after a few months, I cannot wait to take that uncomfortable Ethiopian Airlines flight and throw myself heart and soul into what I like to do best, without any ulterior motives – being a doctor.

 Dr. Stefano Carbone