Scaling Safe Surgery for District and Rural Populations in Africa (SURG-Africa), RCSI’s latest Horizon 2020 Project, was hot off the blocks with a trip to Ethiopia and Tanzania at the end of January. The SURG-Africa team (including Prof Ruairi Brugha, Dr Jakub Gajewski and Mary Scholl of RCSI) attended and presented at the Pan African Association of Surgeons (PAAS) Global Surgery conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia February 1-3.
SURG-Africa will work under the leadership of ministries of health (MoH) in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, to develop, implement and evaluate country-specific supervision models that enable surgeon specialists be mentors of surgically active district hospital clinicians. RCSI, as well being coordinator, will oversee the quantitative research, testing the models and measuring surgical outcomes; and the qualitative implementation research, using participatory methods.
SURG-Africa’s first step was to network with the different global and regional stakeholders who have moved into the field of global surgery intervention and research, who attended the Addis Ababa event. The SURG-Africa team then travelled to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to meet with the local principal investigators from the Tanzania Surgical Association, as well as senior directors and the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, who have welcomed the project.
The formal project launch is scheduled for Arusha and Moshi, Tanzania, at the end of March, where the full consortium will first meet: RCSI (project coordinator), Radboud University Medical Centre (RUMC), Netherlands; Oxford University, UK; College of Medicine (CoM), Malawi; East Central and Southern African-Health Community (ECSA-HC), College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and Tanzania Surgical Association.
The SURG-Africa consortium, led by Professor Ruairi Brugha, (Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine) along with three African and two other European institutions have been awarded €6 million in research funding by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Programme. SURG-Africa - Scaling up Safe Surgery for District and Rural Populations in Africa - will undertake research to underpin national programmes for the delivery of essential, elective and emergency surgery in Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania; countries with a combined population of 85 million. It will develop and evaluate models for enabling the scarce resource of qualified surgeons in Africa to meet the needs of those in rural areas, through supervising general medical doctors and non-physician clinicians to delivery emergency and basic elective surgery at district hospitals.