Establishing a Sustainable Training Program for Laparoscopy in Resource-Limited Settings: Experience in Ghana

Background:
Healthcare equipment funded by international partners is often not properly utilized in many developing countries due to low levels of awareness and a lack of expertise. A long-term on-site training program for laparoscopic surgery was established at a regional hospital in Ghana upon request of the Ghana Health Service and local surgeons.

Objective:
The authors report the initial 32-month experience of implementing laparoscopic surgery focusing on the trainees’ response, technical independence, and factors associated with the successful implementation of a “new” surgical practice.

Methods:
Curricular structure and feedback results of the trainings for doctors and nurses, and characteristics of laparoscopic procedures performed at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital between January 2017 and September 2019 were retrospectively reviewed.

Findings:
Comprehensive training including two weeks of simulation workshops followed by animal labs were regularly provided for the doctors. Among the 97 trainees, 27.9% had prior exposure in laparoscopic surgery, 95% were satisfied with the program. Eleven nurses attained professional competency over 15 training sessions where none had prior exposure to laparoscopic surgery. Since the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy in February 2017, 82 laparoscopic procedures were performed. The scope of the surgery was expanded from general surgery (n = 46) to gynecology (n = 33), pediatric surgery (n = 2), and urology (n = 1). The volume of local doctors as primary operators increased from 0% (0/17, February to December 2017) to 41.9% (13/31, January to October 2018) and 79.4% (27/34, November 2018 to September 2019), with 72.5% of the cases being assisted by the expatriate surgeon. There were no open conversions, technical complications, or mortalities. Local doctors independently commenced endoscopic surgical procedures including cystoscopies, hysteroscopies, endoscopic neurosurgeries and arthroscopies.

Conclusion:
Sensitization and motivation of the surgical workforce through long-term continuous on-site training resulted in the successful implementation of laparoscopic surgery with a high level of technical independence.

Surgical Care at Rural District Hospitals in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: An Essential Component of Universal Health Coverage

Surgical care has long been considered too exclusive and uneconomical to be a public health priority, despite one third of the total global burden of disease being attributed to surgical conditions. Furthermore, five billion people worldwide do not have access to safe and timely surgical care, the majority of whom live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) including sub-Saharan Africa.
The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery has highlighted surgical care as an important component of universal health coverage, urging the world to make surgical, anaesthetic and obstetric services a priority on the global health agenda. In 2015, the World Health Assembly passed a declaration stating that timely and safe essential and emergency surgical care (EESC) was a key component of universal health coverage and that district hospitals should be the backbone of EESC. The World Bank further described 44 EESC procedures, 28 of which were categorised as district-level procedures. In order to achieve equitable access to EESC, strengthening surgical health systems, especially at the district level, requires prioritisation.

Addressing the fistula treatment gap and rising to the 2030 challenge

Obstetric fistula is a neglected public health and human rights issue. It occurs almost exclusively in low‐resource regions, resulting in permanent urinary and/or fecal incontinence. Although the exact prevalence remains unknown, it starkly outweighs the limited pool of skilled fistula surgeons needed to repair this childbirth injury. Several global movements have, however, enabled the international community to make major strides in recent decades. FIGO’s Fistula Surgery Training Initiative, launched in 2012, has made significant gains in building the capacity of local fistula surgeons to steadily close the fistula treatment gap. Training and education are delivered via FIGO and partners’ Global Competency‐based Fistula Surgery Training Manual and tailored toward the needs and skill level of each trainee surgeon (FIGO Fellow). There are currently 62 Fellows from 22 fistula‐affected countries on the training program, who have collectively performed over 10 000 surgical repairs. The initiative also contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (1, 3, 5, 8, 10, and 17). The UN’s ambitious target to end fistula by 2030 will be unobtainable unless sufficient resources are mobilized and affected countries are empowered to develop their own sustainable eradication plans, including access to safe delivery and emergency obstetric services.

Global paediatric surgery: meeting an unmet need-the response of the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons.

AIM:
Outline the response from an organisation regarding the unmet needs in global children’s surgery METHOD: The burden of global surgical disease, whilst daunting, is becoming increasingly better defined as agencies, surgical colleges and professional specialty associations all attempt to increase capacity in terms of manpower, support education and find sustainable solutions to the deficit of health in treating women and children. However, definition of the problem does not in itself create change and similarly, humanitarian activities including volunteering by established surgical practitioners and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) make only marginal improvement in the standards of care on offer at a global level.

RESULTS:
The International Affairs Committee, British Association of Paediatric Surgeons (BAPS) has had its target firmly set on investing in potential leaders within paediatric surgery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and sharing elements of the educational programme made available for training within the UK and Ireland with the aim of contributing to the solutions of inequity in the surgical standards available to the world’s children.

CONCLUSION:
This article outlines some of the practical steps that have been deployed by BAPS by way of sharing the responsibility for problem-solving at a global level. It also highlights the need for clarity in advocacy and the route through which effective communication can translate into wider and more effective delivery of surgical care for children.

Fellowship exit examination in orthopaedic surgery in the commonwealth countries of Australia, UK, South Africa and Canada. Are they comparable and equivalent? A perspective on the requirements for medical migration

nternational migration of healthcare professionals has increased substantially in recent decades. In order to practice medicine in the recipient country, International Medical Graduates (IMG) are required to fulfil the requirements of their new countries medical registration authorities. The purpose of this project was to compare the final fellowship exit examination in Orthopaedic Surgery for the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa. The curriculum of the Australian Orthopaedic Association (SET) was selected as a baseline reference. The competencies and technical modules specified in the training syllabus, as well as the specifics of the final fellowship examination as outlined in SET, were then compared between countries. Of the nine competencies outlined in SET, the curricula of the UK, South Africa and Canada were all compatible with the Australian syllabus, and covered 97.7%, 86% and 93%, respectively, of all competencies and sub-items. The final fellowship examinations of Australia, South Africa and the UK were all highly similar in format and content. The examination in Canada was substantially different, and had two written sessions but combined the oral and clinical component into a structured OSCE using standardized patients and the component included unmanned stations. There were no significant differences for completion certificate of training and/or board certification observed between these countries. The results of this study strongly suggest that core and technical competencies outlined in the training and education curriculum and the final fellowship examination in Orthopaedic Surgery in Australia, South Africa and the UK are compatible. Between country reciprocal recognition of these fellowship examinations should not only be considered by the relevant Colleges, but should also be regulated by the individual countries health practitioner registration boards and governing bodies.

The ReSurge Global Training Program: A Model for Surgical Training and Capacity Building in Global Reconstructive Surgery.

A paradigm shift is underway in the world of humanitarian global surgery to address the large unmet need for reconstructive surgical services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Here, we discuss the ReSurge Global Training Program (RGTP), a model for surgical training and capacity building in reconstructive surgery in the developing world. The program includes an online reconstructive surgery curriculum, visiting educator trips, expert reconstructive surgeon involvement, trainee competency tracking system, and identification of local outreach partners to provide safe reconstructive surgery to the neediest of patients in the developing world.A retrospective review of the components of the RGTP from July 2014 through June 2017 was performed. Trainee milestones scores were analyzed to observe trends toward competency in specific plastic surgery skill sets.There were a total of 38 visiting educator trips during the study period. The trips took place in 10 LMICs. A total of 149 trainees were evaluated in the context of the visiting educator trips with 377 distinct submodule evaluations. Four trainees had more than 10 submodule evaluations over 2 or more visiting educator trips. There was notable improvement in milestones ratings over time among the trainees in this program.The RGTP is a model of reconstructive surgical training and capacity building in LMICs. Trainees develop important skill sets in reconstructive surgery as a result of their involvement in the program. This comprehensive training approach addresses the disparity in access to care in the developing world by providing short- and long-term solutions to unmet reconstructive needs.

Establishing a children’s orthopaedic hospital for Malawi: A review after 10 years.

BEIT CURE International Hospital (BCIH) opened in 2002 providing orthopaedic surgical services to children in Malawi. This study reviews the hospital’s progress 10 years after establishment of operational services. In addition we assess the impact of the hospital’s Malawi national clubfoot programme (MNCP) and influence on orthopaedic training.All operative paediatric procedures performed by BCIH services in the 10th operative year were included. Data on clubfoot clinic locations and number of patients treated were obtained from the MNCP. BCIH records were reviewed to identify the number of healthcare professionals who have received training at the BCIH.609 new patients were operated on in the 10th year of hospital service. Patients were treated from all regions; however 60% came from Southern regions compared with the 48% in the 5th year. Clubfoot, burn contracture and angular lower limb deformities were the three most common pathologies treated surgically. In total BCIH managed 9,842 patients surgically over a 10-year period. BCIH helped to establish and co-ordinate the MNCP since 2007. At present the program has a total of 29 clinics, which have treated 5748 patients. Furthermore, BCIH has overseen the full or partial training of 5 orthopaedic surgeons and 82 orthopaedic clinical officers in Malawi.The BCIH has improved the care of paediatric patients in a country that prior to its establishment had no dedicated paediatric orthopaedic service, treating almost 10,000 patients surgically and 6,000 patients in the MNCP. This service has remained consistent over a 10-year period despite times of global austerity. Whilst the type of training placement offered at BCIH has changed in the last 10 years, the priority placed on training has remained paramount. The strategic impact of long-term training commitments are now being realised, in particular by the addition of Orthopaedic surgeons serving the nation.

Opportunities and challenges for thoracic surgery collaborations in China: a commentary.

Through a unique combination of factors-including a huge population, rapid social development, and concentration of resources in its mega-cities-China is witnessing phenomenal developments in the field of thoracic surgery. Ultra-high-volume centers are emerging that provide fantastic new opportunities for surgical training and clinical research to surgeons in China and partners from other countries. However, there are also particular shortcomings that are limiting clinical and academic developments. To realize the potential and reap the rewards, the challenges posed by these limitations must be overcome. Thoracic surgeons from Europe may be particularly well-placed to achieve this through multi-dimensional exchanges with their Chinese counterparts.