Foot and ankle pathology if not treated appropriately and in a timely manner can adversely affect both disability and quality adjusted life years. More so in the low- and middle-income countries where ambulation is the predominant means of getting around for the majority of the population in order to earn a livelihood. This has necessitated the equipping of the new generation of orthopaedic surgeons with the expertise and skills set to manage these conditions. To address this need, surgeons from the British Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (BOFAS) and College of Surgeons of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) transferred the “Principles of Foot and Ankle Surgery” course to an African regional setting. The course was offered to surgical trainees from 14-member countries of the COSECSA region and previously in the UK. The faculty was drawn from practicing surgeons experienced in both surgical education and foot and ankle surgery. The course comprises didactic lectures, case-based discussions in small groups, patient evaluations and guided surgical dissections on human cadavers. It was offered free to all participants. The feasibility of the course was evaluated using the model defined by Bowen considering the eight facets of acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, adaptation, integration, expansion and limited efficacy. At the end of the course participants were expected to give verbal subjective feedback and objective feedback using a cloud based digital feedback questionnaire. The course content was evaluated by the participants as “Poor”, “Below average”, “Average”, “Good” and “Excellent”, which was converted into a value from 1–5 for analysis. The non-parametric categorical data was analysed using the Two-sample Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann–Whitney) test, and significance was considered to be p < 0.05.
The expansion of local training programmes is crucial to address the shortages of specialist paediatric surgeons across Sub-Saharan Africa. This study assesses whether the current training programme for paediatric surgery at the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) is exposing trainees to adequate numbers and types of surgical procedures, as defined by local and international guidelines.
Using data from the COSECSA web-based logbook, we retrospectively analysed numbers and types of operations carried out by paediatric surgical trainees at each stage of training between 2015 and 2019, comparing results with indicative case numbers from regional (COSECSA) and international (Joint Commission on Surgical Training) guidelines.
A total of 7,616 paediatric surgical operations were recorded by 15 trainees, at different stages of training, working across five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each trainee recorded a median number of 456 operations (range 56–1111), with operative experience increasing between the first and final year of training. The most commonly recorded operation was inguinal hernia (n = 1051, 13.8%). Trainees performed the majority (n = 5607, 73.6%) of operations recorded in the eLogbook themselves, assisting in the remainder. Trainees exceeded both local and international recommended case numbers for general surgical procedures, with little exposure to sub-specialities.
Trainees obtain a wide experience in common and general paediatric surgical procedures, the number of which increases during training. Post-certification may be required for those who wish to sub-specialise. The data from the logbook are useful in identifying individuals who may require additional experience and centres which should be offering increased levels of supervised surgical exposure.