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COSECSA now has over 300 surgical trainees, a vast
expansion on previous years. The programme has put in
place administrative tools and processes to smooth this
expansion, and has facilitated the recruitment of staff,
including an international standard Chief Executive Officer,
Mr Francis Kaikumba. Further recruitment is underway in
both Ireland and Africa, and a programme of `twinning' RCSI
and COSECSA staff holding similar positions has begun.
The programme, with the support of the RCSI Institute
of Leadership, has trained 238 surgical trainers through a
series of courses across all 10 countries and has now trained
a cohort of master trainers in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania,
Uganda and Rwanda, who have now taken over the
continued roll-out of these courses.
The collaboration programme has also trained junior doctors
in basic surgical techniques in Zimbabwe and is expanding
this programme to Zambia and Rwanda. In collaboration
with the World Health Organization and other partners,
the programme is producing an open access e-learning
tool, which will be used to upskill junior doctors and clinical
officers in basic surgical procedures across the developing
Other courses within the collaboration programme include
basic sciences courses and fellowship-level seminars, as
well as administration of the mandatory training courses
on the only Africa-centric surgical e-learning platform.
The programme continues to install and support IT labs in
surgical training hospitals across the region.
In 2006, RCSI pioneered the world's first dedicated mobile
surgical skills training unit. In July 2014, RCSI President,
Mr Declan J Magee announced RCSI's intention to donate
the unit to the RCSI/COSECSA collaboration and Mr
Joe Costello, the then Minister of State for Trade and
Development, visited the 30 tonne-unit outside RCSI in
St. Stephen's Green to mark the launch. The unit was
refurbished and rebranded in preparation for its one-way trip
from Dublin to Arusha, Tanzania, to host training courses in
East Africa.
The Mobile Surgical Skills Unit is equipped with surgical
training technology such as virtual reality simulators to train
surgical trainees in hospitals across five of the 10 COSECSA
countries, namely: Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and
Tanzania. It can accommodate 10 surgical trainees at
one time and will deliver surgical training to world-class
Basic surgical skills are an integral part of surgical training
and simulation-based surgical training provides trainees with
the opportunity to learn outside the operating room in a
non-patient, stress-free environment. However, widespread
adoption of simulation technology especially in medical
education is often prohibited by its high cost, limited space,
and interruptions to clinical duties. The Mobile Skills Unit is
a way of addressing some of these limitations by teaching
surgical trainees the necessary skills in their own hospital
Speaking at the launch of the Mobile Surgical Skills Unit, Mr
Francis Kaikumba, CEO of COSECSA said: "This unit will
enable us to accelerate and expand our surgical training
offer immensely by helping COSECSA to reach a wider pool
of students, especially those in rural settings who struggle
to access such courses. Most importantly, this Surgical
Skills Unit will help COSECSA immeasurably in providing a
cost-effective college `without walls' approach to surgical
training. Our approach involves world class in-service
training complemented by a unique e-learning education
platform. This enables our surgical trainees to develop
both their clinical and academic skills, without having to
leave their posts, while working towards a professional
qualification that is widely recognised across the COSECSA
region. This region faces an acute surgical manpower crisis
where there are only 1,400 surgeons serving a population of
a quarter of a billion people."
Mr Dermot O'Flynn, RCSI Institute of Leadership
(bottom left) pictured with the COSESCA master
trainer group in Kenya in June 2014.