Surgical task sharing in Sierra Leone – University of Copenhagen

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Surgical task sharing in Sierra Leone

Masanga DK presents Dr. Håkon Bolkan founder of CapaCare who will present data and results from 6 years of ongoing surgical task sharing program based in Sierra Leone. Dr. Bolkan has based his PhD thesis on this project and data, and will give us a pre-view of his upcoming defense in a folkloric version.

Time: Match 25th 2017 at 4 p.m.
Place: Grundtvigshus, Studiestræde 36, 1455 København K

“70% of the estimated one million annual deaths from emergency surgical conditions occur in Low and Middle Income countries (LMICs). The Lancet Commission on Global surgery estimated recently that five billion people worldwide lack access to safe, affordable and timely surgical care should they need it. Further, surgical treatment has recently been identified as a cost effective intervention in resource-poor settings, at the level with vaccination programs. Out of the roughly 250 million operations performed each year, only 3.5% is performed on the poorest 1/3 of the world’s population. Injuries alone cause 5.7 million deaths yearly, much more than the 3.8 million deaths caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis taken together. 89% of those deaths occur in LMICs. Many of these fatal injuries could have been treated by basic surgery, if it were available. Other prominent conditions that demand surgical treatment are obstetric complications such as caesarian section and fistula repair, nearly all cancers, cataract and congenital anomalies such as club foot and cleft lip.

The crisis in human resources in surgical health care is, however, a major health system challenge in LMICs. Innovative workforce solutions offer viable options to alleviating the consequences of these staff shortages. Task-sharing/shifting already recommended by WHO for cesarean section is a feasible strategy that should be seriously considered deployed at larger scale. Task-sharing in surgery has been widely debated and described in key publications over the last years, but there are still limited data on the safety of such programmes, the productivity of non-physician clinicians as surgical providers and its potential future role in contributing to surgical volume. CapaCare’s surgical training programme in Sierra Leone has been ongoing since 2011 and is extensively documented. The presentation build on six years of collaboration between the non-governmental organization CapaCare, Masanga Hospital Rehabilitation Project and the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone.

The overall aim of the STP is to increase the surgical workforce at district hospitals in Sierra Leone. Our assumption is that a substantial expansion of qualified surgical human resources at district hospitals is more likely if surgical tasks can be shared with healthcare workers with shorter training than the MDs.”