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Our groundbreaking education & training programme

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As part of our goal to increase global surgical capacity, we identified the need to expand our education and training programmes.

Up-skilling, and helping train local surgical teams is a crucial obstacle to making safe surgery more accessible across the world. 

This would be achieved through several initiatives under a Education & Training Programme.

Before launching the programme earlier this year we had been providing scholarships to paediatric surgical trainees since January 2021, in partnership with Smile Train. Gradually, other projects including our award winning e-learning platform (PAPSEP) were included.

We interviewed Samuel, the Education & Training Officer for Africa, to gain an insight on the progress of our different programmes.

Tell us about yourself!

I am currently working as Education and Train Officer or Africa at Kids Operating Room (KidsOR).My background - Economics and International Management with bachelor’s and master’s Degree subsequently from Sciences Po Paris with an interest to explore my career in International Development.

Samuel, right, pictured alongside KidsOR scholar Dr. Martha Mukonka.

Samuel, right, pictured alongside KidsOR scholar Dr. Martha Mukonka.

As an Educational and Training officer in Africa, what exactly entails in the department?

This is a programme that has been grown in the past two years with several new opportunities being introduced this year. The role basically entails the following:

Scholarships: We offer scholarships to doctors who are interested to train as paediatric surgeons under the two regional surgical Collage: Collage of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and West Africa Collage of Surgeons (WACS) enrolled for the three years or five years programme. Also, we offer scholarships to trainees under the Collage of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA).

Pan-African Paediatric Surgery E-Learning Platform (PAPSEP): Established in May 2021, this is an E-Learning platform that complements existing curriculum and is sustained under COSECSA and WACS. It is a platform whose content is produced by African paediatric surgeons, whereby development and project management were done in partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), specifically the Institute of Global Surgery, after which the roles were transferred to me in January 2023.

District Hospitals Training Programme: This is a project that has been launched in February 2023 and aims to train and build capacity for African general surgeons and other specialties like anaesthesia and nursing personnel within District hospitals to handle major paediatric surgical cases. The expected outcome is equal, easy access to safe, quality surgical care for children within the districts, and less referral of cases to national and regional hospitals.

I also work closely with the KidsOR biomedical engineers to develop a periodic Biomed Training Programme at every OR we have ever done and the new ORs we are going to install.

Capacity Building whose idea is basically looking at beyond providing scholarships, E-Learning programmes, and the District training program; how we can build the capacity of trainees through short courses and workshop. At the same time, we would like to support the hospitals to provide paediatric surgery training thus increasing the number of training centres and uptake of scholars in the region.

What strategies do you use to ensure that training materials are up to date and relevant?

First things first, when it comes to Paediatric Surgery Training, as KidsOR we only facilitate the financial aspect of the training, we don’t have control over the curriculum of the two regional colleges (COSECSA and WACS). We however have frequent assessment of our trainees and respond to relevant challenges they may be facing. On the other hand, when it comes to PAPSEP, we contact authors to ensure modules are delivered on time.

How do you assess the effectiveness of a training program?

For scholarships, we have quarterly report sent by learners with a template provided to them at the beginning of their training; ensuring all the reports have similar structure which is compulsory. This assessment ensures we track the trainees’ progress, and we ascertain if we are getting value for the funds invested, and as a result, report to our donors on the progress and return on their investment. Moreover, we have supervisors report with a standard template filled by the trainees’ trainers and supervisors. These are sent every six months to highlight the learners’ progress, challenges faced and areas of improvement.

For PAPSEP, we collect feedback for every weekly module and the monthly Zoom Discussion as well as having reports generated from the platform on usage, participation, and performance of the scholars.


During selection, what exactly do you look forward to for you to approve that a trainee qualifies for the scholarship

There are priority countries which have been mapped out by both KidsOR and our partners, Smile Train and ELMA. This means that we target and prioritise applications from these specific countries.

There are also conditions ,for one to get a scholarship as follows:

One must be enrolled in a paediatric surgery training program under the two regional colleges; COSECSA & WACS, could be Fellowship College of Surgeons (FCS) or Membership College of Surgeons (MCS). In some other cases we consider applicants enrolled under the College of Medicine of South Africa (CMSA).

Secondly, one must be recommended by the Surgical Society or Senior Surgeon in their country of origin. This ensures we get the best possible candidates from each country.

Thirdly, one must be able to show, through a letter of motivation, why they deserve the scholarship, and how their future and goals aligns with the aims and objectives of the scholarship programme. This letter of motivation is sent alongside their CV, and the letter of motivation mentioned above.

What is the plan for extending the E-learning support for Anaesthesia ?

The idea is to have similar platform like PAPSEP but for Anaesthesia this means we will have a program that is locally made and led. The modules will be created by African Paediatric Anaesthesiologists in collaboration with some external faculty to ensure that the curriculum corresponds to and complements the existing training programs. College of Anaesthesiologists of East, Central & Southern Africa (CANECSA) is a key partner in this project.

Could you tell us the challenges you encounter during the assessment of the training or scholarship programs?

Scholarships: Scholars who fail exams, who don’t send reports on time, how to handle such cases and ensure the trainees’ goals are all met.

PAPSEP: Few learners completing modules, getting a moderator on time for the Zoom Discussions

Other Training programs: rolling out the new training programmes has been a challenge due to many external factors and players, but there is currently good progress, and we expect positive outcomes in the next quarter.

Finally, I’d like to know what motivates you?

The end goal of doing all this as KidsOR is to ensure a child get easy, affordable and equal access to safe paediatric surgical care; a child gets to receive the quality care when they need it, even if they can’t afford it. Giving that child a smile, giving that parent relief, and giving the family hope is the key for me.

And of course, working with amazing colleagues motivates me to give my best to achieve great things together, and celebrate together.

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