RCSI and BD partner to expand access to paediatric surgery in sub-Saharan Africa

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The RCSI Institute of Global Surgery and global medical technology company, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), today announce KidSURG, a joint initiative aimed at significantly improving paediatric surgical services across southern Malawi.

Created in collaboration with leading Malawian paediatric surgeon, Professor Eric Borgstein, the KidSURG initiative will develop a paediatric surgical network in southern Malawi, to expand surgical access to 8 million children. The initiative will also seek to develop and share optimal models for replicating this initiative in other countries. BD has donated $500,000 in cash and surgical products to support the initiative.

Malawi is a region within Africa that faces a catastrophic deficit in surgical care access. The country’s unmet need for surgical care is estimated to be 41 million cases per year, resulting in a greater number of deaths than those resulting from TB, HIV and malaria combined.

Through the KidSURG initiative, RCSI worked in partnership with Professor Borgstein and his team in Malawi to identify the greatest challenges when it comes to expanding surgical access. Together they will work to reduce unnecessary childhood mortality by addressing the shortfall in surgical equipment and medical expertise within district hospitals in the region.

The KidSURG initiative will train healthcare workers to deliver high-quality, pre-referral care for complex paediatric surgical patients, and deliver safe surgery for some of the most common surgical procedures needed by children.

The initiative will also direct the development of a specialist mentor network, through which paediatric surgeons in central hospitals can provide immediate advice on patient management to regional district hospitals.

Additionally, the project will supply custom-made paediatric surgical toolboxes, sponsored by BD, providing critical equipment needed to operate safely on children.

Following initial rollout, RCSI will evaluate opportunities to scale-up and expand the initiative elsewhere in a cost-effective manner, ensuring that its impact is maximised.

Professor Eric Borgstein, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malawi, said: “The KidSURG initiative is a powerful example of practical and effective support that will help increase expertise in district hospitals across Malawi. I welcome this important collaboration with RCSI and extend my sincere thanks to BD for supporting our critical work on the ground.”

Professor Mark Shrime, O’Brien Chair of Global Surgery at RCSI, said: “For over 10 years, RCSI has pioneered and accelerated change to provide solutions to the surgical deficit, focusing on low and middle-income countries. We are proud to announce this partnership with BD which will significantly reduce mortality rates for children.”

Greg Quinn, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at BD, said: “BD has a strong heritage of facilitating best-practice patient and healthcare worker safety across the world. This important partnership with our RCSI colleagues and local Malawi professionals will enable the best surgical outcomes and the safest possible interventions for children in Malawi, and we also hope it will become a model for expanding safe surgical access to children in other developing nations as well.”

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. The Institute has a dual focus: capacity-building to alleviate the surgical burden, and high impact research to set the foundation for greater growth.

For nine years RCSI researchers have led the COST and SURG-Africa global surgery consortia working to develop, implement and evaluate sustainable training models in which local physicians and non-physician clinicians are trained to deliver safe surgery in rural hospitals with the support of consultant surgeons from within the region.

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is ranked first in the world for ‘Good Health and Well-being’ in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2020. The University’s leading global position in this category reflects RCSI’s singular focus on improving human health, for the benefit of patients and communities across the globe.