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African Medical Surgery Training Employs The Internet To Compensate For Instructors Shortage

by Felix Omondi

African Medical Surgery Training Employs The Internet To Compensate For Instructors Shortage
COSECSAIt is estimated, that in Uganda there are 175 surgeons to a population of 34 million. This is extremely below the internationally accepted standards. This same statistics is more or less replicated across the Eastern, Central & Southern African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi among others, with the situation getting worse in unstable countries like South Sudan and Somalia.

Compared to developed nations, it goes without saying that these African countries have a long way to go in terms of training and recruiting more surgeons into this professional field. For instance looking at the Irish statistics; there are 495 surgeons to a population of less than 5 million. This is not to say that the medical practice in these African countries is in completely deplorable state, it only reveals that more attention has been given to other fields of medicine such as dealing with malaria and HIV/AIDS at the expense of the medical surgery field.

To address this problem, Medical Surgeon practitioners in the East African states have joined the COSECSA (The College of Surgeons of East, Central & Southern Africa) which is aimed at advancing education, training, setting examination standards, conducting research and practicing surgical care. Thus ensuring that the numbers of surgical training is increased throughout these countries. COSECSA is an independent body which provides standardized and international training in surgery across the nine countries: Kenya, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

The collaboration between these East, Central and Southern Africa began when the president of the African Group Prof. Krikor Erzingatsian went for a training in Dublin in 2007, and his friend Prof. Gerry O’Sullivan was made the head of the Irish group at the same time, and the two professors joined heads together and came up with the idea of launching this program. The program is sponsored by the Irish Aid, and ever since its inception, it has established a quite a robust online platform dubbed Train the Trainer courses. The project goes to as far as sponsoring satellite dish connection to the remotest parts of these countries such as the St.Mary’s Hospital found in Gulu on remote region of Northern Uganda.

The website for this online projects platform is known as the School for Surgeons which has been designed by the Irish counterpart to enable medical surgery school interns to access the much-need theoretical knowledge. As was attested to by one surgical intern from the Mulango Hospital in Uganda; that an average medical book goes for about USH. 200,000 while the average monthly income for a majority of Ugandans is about USH. 300,000. Hence it becomes difficult for individual students to buy the necessary medical books, while the medical surgery teaching institutions as well are very much lacking of these essential reading materials.

Not only does the give the medical surgery interns a lot of theoretical knowledge online similar to that of their counterparts in Ireland, but also they are placed at a better advantage compared to their Irish counterparts based on the fact that they get access to a lot of practical experiences offline. This is due to the fact that the African interns simply have more cases to attend to on a practical basis because of the shortage of surgeons in these regions and  a high number of cases requiring surgical operations.

Many medical experts and practitioner have appreciated this program of online training for medical surgery practitioners because it gives them international standards of learning and increases the number of qualified surgeons in their respective countries. It has been observed that more attention is being given to communicable diseases and other types of illness such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, but little medical training and facilitation is being undertaken to cover trauma and injuries. Despite the fact that they are on the increase, courtesy to the ever increasing number of road accidents leading to patients needing surgery operations.

The main agenda behind this initiative is to bring up a big number of fresh graduates who have taken the standardized exams that is at par with the industry’s international standards thus reducing the shortage of surgeon in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa countries.

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