Qualities of Effective Vital Anaesthesia Simulation Training Facilitators Delivering Simulation-Based Education in Resource-Limited Settings

Lack of access to safe and affordable anesthesia and surgical care is a major contributor to avoidable death and disability across the globe. Effective education initiatives are a viable mechanism to address critical skill and process gaps in perioperative teams. Vital Anaesthesia Simulation Training (VAST) aims to overcome barriers limiting widespread application of simulation-based education (SBE) in resource-limited environments, providing immersive, low-cost, multidisciplinary SBE and simulation facilitator training. There is a dearth of knowledge regarding the factors supporting effective simulation facilitation in resource-limited environments. Frameworks evaluating simulation facilitation in high-income countries (HICs) are unlikely to fully assess the range of skills required by simulation facilitators working in resource-limited environments. This study explores the qualities of effective VAST facilitators; knowledge gained will inform the design of a framework for assessing simulation facilitators working in resource-limited contexts and promote more effective simulation faculty development.

This qualitative study used in-depth interviews to explore VAST facilitators’ perspectives on attributes and practices of effective simulation in resource-limited settings. Twenty VAST facilitators were purposively sampled and consented to be interviewed. They represented 6 low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and 3 HICs. Interviews were conducted using a semistructured interview guide. Data analysis involved open coding to inductively identify themes using labels taken from the words of study participants and those from the relevant literature.

Emergent themes centered on 4 categories: Persona, Principles, Performance and Progression. Effective VAST facilitators embody a set of traits, style, and personal attributes (Persona) and adhere to certain Principles to optimize the simulation environment, maximize learning, and enable effective VAST Course delivery. Performance describes specific practices that well-trained facilitators demonstrate while delivering VAST courses. Finally, to advance toward competency, facilitators must seek opportunities for skill Progression.

Interwoven across categories was the finding that effective VAST facilitators must be cognizant of how context, culture, and language may impact delivery of SBE. The complexity of VAST Course delivery requires that facilitators have a sensitive approach and be flexible, adaptable, and open-minded. To progress toward competency, facilitators must be open to self-reflection, be mentored, and have opportunities for practice.

The results from this study will help to develop a simulation facilitator evaluation tool that incorporates cultural sensitivity, flexibility, and a participant-focused educational model, with broad relevance across varied resource-limited environments.

A Situational Analysis of the Specialist Anaesthesia Workforce of East, Central and Southern Africa

Background: An accurate account of the distribution of qualied anaesthesiologists in East, Central and Southern Africa has been lacking with most of the current publications being estimates of headline gures. As university training programmes, and more recently the College of Anaesthesiologists of East, Central and Southern Africa (CANECSA), work to scale up the anaesthesiology workforce, it is crucial to understand the scope of the need by carrying out an extensive survey. This is key to informing policymakers and stakeholders for tackling the problem of human resources for anaesthesia.

Methods: The anaesthesiologist distribution in the eight CANECSA member countries was determined using a combination existing databases and collection of new data from sources such as CANECSA records, national medical council registers, national anaesthesiology society records, as well as data validation through direct and indirect contact with the anaesthesiologists. Data collation and analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and SPSS by assessing relevant frequencies and crosstabulations. Data was stored in a cloud-based database managed by CANECSA.

Results: 411 qualified anaesthesiologists were identied within the CANECSA member countries, a rate of 0.21 anaesthesiologists per 100,000 population compared to 333 (0.17 anaesthesiologists per 100,000 population) reported by the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiology (WFSA) in 2015/2016. Newly quantified details on the distribution of anesthesiologists in the region include: the majority (89.5%) of anaesthesiologists perform clinical work and most (69.3%) are based in the main commercial cities of their countries of practice; only about one third (35.5%) are female; the majority are employed by government institutions (61.6%) and medical-training institutions (59.4%); and almost half (49.2%) of anaesthesiologists whose age was recorded ranged from 30 to 39 years.

Conclusion: The numbers of anaesthesiologists in CANECSA member countries are still far below all international recommendations constituting only about 5% of the minimum recommended figures for LMICs. Anaesthesiologist are highly concentrated in the major cities of the region, with few in provincial and rural areas. Nonetheless, all trends suggest huge opportunities for advancing training of more
anaesthesiologists through collaborative efforts.

Establishment of a high-dependency unit in Malawi

Adults admitted to hospital with critical illness are vulnerable and at high risk of morbidity and mortality, especially in sub-Saharan African settings where resources are severely limited. As life expectancy increases, patient demographics and healthcare needs are increasingly complex and require integrated approaches. Patient outcomes could be improved by increased critical care provision that standardises healthcare delivery, provides specialist staff and enhanced patient monitoring and facilitates some treatment modalities for organ support. In Malawi, we established a new high-dependency unit within Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, a tertiary referral centre serving the country’s Southern region. This unit was designed in partnership with managers, clinicians, nurses and patients to address their needs. In this practice piece, we describe a participatory approach to design and implement a sustainable high-dependency unit for a low-income sub-Saharan African setting. This included: prospective agreement on remit, alignment with existing services, refurbishment of a dedicated physical space, recruitment and training of specialist nurses, development of context-sensitive clinical standard operating procedures, purchase of appropriate and durable equipment and creation of digital clinical information systems. As the global COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, we accelerated unit opening in anticipation of increased clinical requirement and describe how the high-dependency unit responded to this demand.

Simulator-based ultrasound training for identification of endotracheal tube placement in a neonatal intensive care unit using point of care ultrasound

Simulators are an extensively utilized teaching tool in clinical settings. Simulation enables learners to practice and improve their skills in a safe and controlled environment before using these skills on patients. We evaluated the effect of a training session utilizing a novel intubation ultrasound simulator on the accuracy of provider detection of tracheal versus esophageal neonatal endotracheal tube (ETT) placement using point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS). We also investigated whether the time to POCUS image interpretation decreased with repeated simulator attempts.

Sixty neonatal health care providers participated in a three-hour simulator-based training session in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi, Pakistan. Participants included neonatologists, neonatal fellows, pediatric residents and senior nursing staff. The training utilized a novel low-cost simulator made with gelatin, water and psyllium fiber. Training consisted of a didactic session, practice with the simulator, and practice with intubated NICU patients. At the end of training, participants underwent an objective structured assessment of technical skills (OSATS) and ten rounds of simulator-based testing of their ability to use POCUS to differentiate between simulated tracheal and esophageal intubations.

The majority of the participants in the training had an average of 7.0 years (SD 4.9) of clinical experience. After controlling for gender, profession, years of practice and POCUS knowledge, linear mixed model and mixed effects logistic regression demonstrated marginal improvement in POCUS interpretation over repeated simulator testing. The mean time-to-interpretation decreased from 24.7 (SD 20.3) seconds for test 1 to 10.1 (SD 4.5) seconds for Test 10, p < 0.001. There was an average reduction of 1.3 s (β = − 1.3; 95% CI: − 1.66 to − 1.0) in time-to-interpretation with repeated simulator testing after adjusting for the covariates listed above.

We found a three-hour simulator-based training session had a significant impact on technical skills and performance of neonatal health care providers in identification of ETT position using POCUS. Further research is needed to examine whether these skills are transferable to intubated newborns in various health settings.

What is the minimum number of specialist anaesthetists needed in low-income and middle-income countries?

The number of specialist anaesthetists in most low-income and middle-income countries is below what is needed to provide a safe quality anaesthesia service. There are no estimates of the optimal number; therefore, we estimated the minimum density of specialist anaesthetists to achieve a reasonable standard of healthcare as indicated by the maternal mortality ratio (MMR).

Utilising existing country-level data of the number of physician anaesthesia providers (PAPs), MMR and Human Development Index (HDI), we developed best-fit curves to describe the relationship between MMR and PAPs, controlling for HDI. The aim was to use this relationship to estimate the number of PAPs associated with achieving the median MMR.

We estimated that, in order to achieve a reasonable standard of healthcare, as indicated by the global median MMR, countries should aim to have at least four PAPs per 100 000 population. Existing data show that currently 80 countries have fewer than this number.

Four PAPs per 100 000 population is a modest target, but there is a need to increase training of doctors in many countries in order to train more specialist anaesthetists. It is important that this target is considered during the development of national workforce plans, even if a stepwise approach to workforce planning is chosen.

A profile of surgical burden and anaesthesia services at Mozambique’s Central Hospital: A review.

Surgical and anaesthesia data, including outcomes, remain limited in low-income countries (LIC). This study reviews the surgical burden and anaesthesia services at a tertiary care hospital in Mozambique.Information on activities within the department of anaesthesia at Maputo Central Hospital for 2014-15 was collected from its annual report and verified by the Chairman of Anaesthesia. Personnel information and health care metrics for the hospital in 2015 were collected and verified by hospital leadership.Maputo Central Hospital has 1423 beds with 50.1% allocated to primary surgical services. 39.7% of total admissions were to surgical services, and in 2015 the hospital performed 10,049 major operations requiring anaesthesia. The OB/GYN service had the most operations with 2894 (28.8%), followed by general surgery (1665, 16.6%). Inpatient surgical mortality was 4.1% and surgical-related diagnoses comprised two of the top 9 causes of death, with malignant neoplasms and hemorrhage from trauma causing the highest mortality. In 2014-15, Maputo Central Hospital employed 15 anesthesiologists, with 4 advanced and 23 basic mid-level anaesthesia providers. Of 10,897 total anaesthesia cases in 2014, 6954 were general anaesthesia and 3925 were neuraxial anaesthesia. Other anaesthesia services included chronic pain and intensive care consultation. Anaesthesia department leadership noted a strong desire to improve data collection and analysis for anaesthesia outcomes and complications, requested an additional administrator for statistical analysis.This profile of anaesthesia services at a large tertiary hospital in Mozambique highlights several features of anaesthesia care and surgical burden in LICs, including challenges of resource limitations, patient comorbidity, and social dynamics present in Mozambique that contribute to prolonged hospital stays. As noted, enhanced data collection and analysis within the department and the hospital may be useful in identifying strategies to improve outcomes and patient safety.

Surgery in Swaziland.

Surgeons working in less developed countries have to manage a wider range of conditions than their colleagues in Britain. It is suggested that such an experience would be a valuable part of the education of a specialist in Britain. A personal series of surgical operations carried out in Swaziland is presented.