RCSI/COSECSA Collaboration Programme

RCSI COSECSA Collaboration Programme countriesIn Sub-Saharan Africa, 93% of people lack access to safe surgical care when needed. A significant contributing factor in this is the acute lack of surgical care providers.

Since 2007, RCSI has supported the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) to improve the standards of surgical care in East, Central and Southern Africa by advancing surgical education, training and examinations.

This deep and wide-ranging collaborative programme is supported by Irish Aid.

Supported by the collaboration programme, COSECSA has grown to be the largest single contributor to the surgical workforce in the East, Central and Southern Africa region, with over 1,100 trainees enrolled across 14 member countries and in accredited training sites in other countries in Africa. 910 surgeons have graduated as of December 2023.

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This infographic summarises the COSECSA surgical training eLogbook for the year 2023. It provides an overview of surgical procedures logged by COSECSA trainees, showcasing the distribution of surgical operations by country, the types of surgeries performed across various specialties, and the demographics of patients involved.

Additionally, it highlights the number of surgical trainees and their roles in operations, emphasising the balance between elective and emergency procedures.

There is a perception that there is a 'brain drain' of skilled health workers from lower income countries emigrating to higher-income countries. However, research shows that 93% of surgeons trained in East, Central and Southern Africa, remain in the region – 'brain drain' of this cadre of healthcare worker is a myth.

COSECSA-trained surgeons perform on average between 300 to 400 major surgeries a year. They also become trainers for the next generation of surgeons, thus exponentially increasing their impact on surgery in the region.

COSECSA graduates 2008-2022 chart

  • Development of administrative and operational tools and systems
  • Examination and training support
  • Development of training faculty
  • Building a research culture and strengthening the COSECSA journal
  • Developing bespoke e-learning resources and COSECSA e-learning platform
  • Continuous development and analysis of the COSECSA e-logbook
  • Business development, strategic and financial planning, fundraising and sustainability planning
  • With ECSACON – Developing an online in-service training programme for perioperative nurses
  • With ECSACOG – Conducting a cross-sectional study of the obstetrician/gynaecologist workforce in East, Central and Southern Africa
  • Supporting essential surgical training in rural areas for the benefit of rural patients
  • Advocacy

The RCSI/COSECSA Collaboration Programme is funded by the Irish public through the State's development arm, Irish Aid, which has provided over €5m funding since 2008. 

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Kigali Graduation 2018

RCSI's work with COSECSA has resulted in online, print and broadcast media coverage of the programme, and assisted in raising the profile of the ongoing work of COSECSA in the region.

Separating conjoined twins in Zambia


The team

The RCSI/COSECSA Collaboration Programme works through a large and diverse team of collaborators from RCSI and other institutions. Key Irish institutional partners are the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland and Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

The important contributions of the RCSI Department of Surgical Affairs and Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery must be acknowledged.

RCSI/COSECSA Collaboration Programme management and leadership includes:

  • James Geraghty (RCSI Co-Chair of the Steering Committee)
  • Lucia Brocato (Programme Manager)
  • Godfrey Sama Philipo (Research and Patient Outcomes Coordinator)