New learning platform for paediatric surgery in Africa
- Global surgery
- General news
A new learning platform which will transform training for paediatric surgeons in Africa has launched today.
The platform has been built by the Institute of Global Surgery at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dublin, for the charity Kids Operating Room (KidsOR) in partnership with over 70 African surgeons from the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the West African College of Surgeons (WACS).
It is Africa's first comprehensive paediatric surgery e-learning platform, aligning curricula and helping to drive up the quality and skill set of new graduates able to specialise in paediatric surgery, which faces a drastic skills shortage and huge un-met demand.
The launch coincides with the World Health Assembly, raising awareness that more children in Africa die of surgically treatable injuries than of HIV, TB and malaria combined.
The e-learning programme is unique for two key reasons. Firstly, it unites the training programmes of the continent's two main surgical colleges, something that has never happened before. Secondly, it enrolls local surgeons to write the content, the first time an e-learning programme for children's surgery in Africa has been written by African surgeons. It is hoped that this will lead to an increase in the number of trainees who graduate, and a higher standard, thanks to regular access to the platform.
The free-to-use service enables trainees enrolled in surgical college training programmes to have direct access to online content and tutorials, creating a space for trainees to learn surgical techniques, management and the underlying sciences.
Garreth Wood, Chair of KidsOR, said: "We committed to deliver this project after listening to the wishes of trainees across the continent. The mentor-based training regime of surgeons is excellent, but no one mentor can be the best at everything. This platform gives trainees access to the continent's leading surgeons for each subject.
"We are so grateful to have had such a great team work on this project, collaborating alongside COSECSA and WACS, who were able to make the platform as comprehensive and relevant as possible. It's the first platform that's fundamentally created by African surgeons for African surgeons, which we hope will support and enhance existing mentor-based training systems.
"Ultimately, our ambition is to find the gaps and find the best ways to support junior doctors through their studies, with resources to help drive the quality, skill sets and confidence of new graduates. We want to help scale the workforce and this platform will allow recent and updated research and techniques to be shared by professionals to support trainees."
Professor Ronan O'Connell, President of RCSI, said: "Building on extensive experience in surgical training, education and research partnerships in Africa, the RCSI Institute of Global Surgery works with local partners to develop sustainable surgical care systems in low- and middle-income countries.
"A blended approach to education, with e-learning complementing in-service training, is a highly effective approach to developing the paediatric surgical workforce across a huge geographic region. This approach is particularly important in the context of the global pandemic. We are delighted to respond to KidsOR's invitation to develop this innovative solution which will benefit African paediatric surgeons, trainees and, ultimately, patients," added Professor O'Connell.
Professor Godfrey Muguti, President of COSECSA, said: "When the online training platform for children's surgery in Africa was first announced by KidsOR we did not know about COVID-19. We knew an online programme would benefit our trainees, that it would be much more valuable if it was written by African surgeons for African trainees, and we knew that by working with our friends and partners at WACS we would help ensure the highest quality graduates across Africa, but we could not have imagined the world where online learning would be so urgent as it is now. I am therefore very proud to launch this resource."
Professor Emmanuel Ameh, Professor and Chief Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, National Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria, said: "The e-learning platform is coming at a time of increased momentum in efforts to scale up access to safe, affordable and timely surgical care for children. It is unique in that it's more than a textbook: it leverages technology to provide an engaging and rewarding learning experience. Trainees can access high quality information, interact and learn from a wide range of experienced trainers in Africa and create network of friendships with other trainees across Africa."
Dr Olga Bell, third-year paediatric surgical trainee in Cote d'Ivoire, said: "The e-learning platform is interesting because it connects West Africa and East Africa in the paediatric surgery programme. We can interact, talk together, exchange all of our experiences. We really appreciate the platform and are very thankful to KidsOR."
The webinar launch event featured talks from KidsOR co-founder Garreth Wood along with Africa’s two most senior surgeons, Professor Godfrey Muguti and Professor Serigne Magueye Gueye, Presidents of College of Surgeons for East, Central and South Africa (COSECSA) and West Africa College of Surgeons (WACS), and Professor Ronan O’Connell, President of RCSI.