Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Friday 18th January - Taoiseach Announces Funding for RCSI Surgical Training Programme in Africa

18 January 2008

18th January 2008: The Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern TD, has announced the awarding of €400,000 in funding through Irish Aid to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) to support an innovative surgical education and training programme in Africa. The announcement was made at a meeting in Tanzania yesterday, of the Taoiseach, Prof. Gerald O’Sullivan, President, RCSI and the President of the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSESCA), Dr. Abednego Kinasha.

The Taoiseach meets with l - r the President of the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSESCA) Dr. Abednego Kinasha and Prof. Gerald O'Sullivan, President, RCSI

This programme, which is the first of its kind to be carried out in Africa, aims to enhance the quality of surgical care in the Sub-Saharan region by improving the quality and accessibility of surgical education and training. The programme will achieve this goal through the implementation of a unique surgical education and training programme. The existing RCSI curriculum and tools that are used to deliver postgraduate surgery in Ireland will be customised to meet regional needs. This curriculum consists of an interactive on-line education programme and a surgical skills training programme.

The programme will be used to train surgeons and other healthcare professionals who deliver surgical services in the region. The RCSI’s existing partnership with COSECSA will facilitate the initial roll out of this programme to surgical trainees in the region.

Speaking earlier today the Taoiseach said “innovative programmes such as this one will help to bridge education gaps that will benefit not just the recipients of this training but the hundreds of people who will need their skills. Tanzania has only 80 trained surgeons for a population of some 39 million - a programme such as this can make a considerable difference.”

Prof. Gerald O’Sullivan, President of RCSI said “There is a severe shortage of qualified healthcare professionals who can deliver surgical care in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is committing assistance with surgical training in Africa through staff and curriculum development, provision of skills technology and training, conduct of examinations and the development of web based educational programmes.

“Through continued engagement with COSECSA we will have a positive and enduring impact on surgical standards in the region which will ultimately benefit the local population and result in better medical care for all.”

In November 2007 RCSI launched a pilot of the online education component of this programme in Zambia and Keyna. Today’s funding award will enable RCSI to start the phased roll out of this programme to hospitals throughout the Sub Sahara region.