In low-income countries there is a scarcity of qualified doctors and anaesthesia is usually delivered by nurses or clinical officers. These non-physician anaesthesia providers often work alone with few resources and in challenging conditions that would intimidate many experienced doctors from high-income countries. They do an incredible job despite rarely getting the opportunity to refresh their knowledge and skills.
For two years running, SAWW funded refresher courses for the nurse anaesthetists in the Kagera region, a poor rural district in northwest Tanzania. The initial course in 2018 was the first anaesthesia training to ever be held in this remote region of the country and it focused on safe obstetric anaesthesia, with the aim of reducing maternal and neonatal mortality. The 3-day event was attended by anaesthesia providers from 16 hospitals and health centres across the region, and enthusiastically received.
The focus of the second course in November 2019 was anaesthesia for emergencies and trauma. The sparsity of hospitals, plus poor roads and infrastructure prevents many complex cases from reaching referral hospitals quickly. As a result, emergency surgical procedures often have to be conducted in district hospitals and health centres, where healthcare workers must cope with treating critical patients in low resource settings.
Nurse anaesthetists from 15 different hospitals attended the course that included lectures, skill stations, simulated scenarios and discussions. Interactive training in a supportive and friendly learning environment, enabled participants to improve their basic skills and knowledge, so they could manage cases confidently and safely within the scope of their limited resources.
For some nurse anaesthetist, these SAWW-funded events were the first refresher training they had ever received. An important element of bringing these key healthcare workers together, is enabling them to share experiences and establish support networks amongst themselves and with their trainers.
Our congratulations to everyone who completed the course and our thanks to all those involved in the organisation and teaching, who included:
Philibert John and Jesca John of Kagondo Hospital
Dr Henriette Willigers and Dr. Michiel van de Wolf, Netherlands
Ms. Suzan P. Mbonde, Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salam
Dr Debora F. Madyedye and Dr Dr Benard Kenemo, Bugundo Hospital, Kagera
Society of Anesthesiologists of Tanzania
The class of 2019 with the teaching faculty of the SAWW Anaesthesia Refresher Course, Kagera Region.