On the 10th of June, SURG-Africa held a symposium in Mangochi, Malawi, to share lessons learned, disseminate research findings, and to celebrate its achievements. Surgical specialists, the Dean of the College of Medicine, directors of clinical services and human resources from the Ministry of Health, and district hospital surgical clinicians joined this interactive event.
“[The] symposium was a great gathering and opportunity to disseminate SURG-Africa work in Malawi” said Gerald Mwapasa, SURG-Africa country coordinator and researcher. “It summed up the effort SURG-Africa has put over the years to improve access to and quality of surgical care for rural, usually poor, populations. The meeting was attended by key stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, who will be driving forward the effort beyond SURG Africa's life span.”
Some of the presentations that took place that day were:
- History of the SURG-AFrica consortium was presented by the project coordinator Dr. Jakub Gajewski who highlighted the role of robust research in driving the agenda of the project and in guiding its implementation;
- The Managed Clinical Network, facilitating stronger links between clinicians at central hospitals and at the district hospitals in the Southern region for real-time clinical consultations and streamlining of surgical referrals, by the Malawi country coordinator Gerald Mwapasa;
- Surgical Audit in the District Hospital, an effort to encourage district hospital clinicians to audit their surgical practice in order to monitor and improve quality of service delivery, by SURG-Africa researcher Dr. Linda Chokotho;
- Surgical Training Capacity in Malawi, sharing recommendations on how to increase the capacity to train more surgical specialists at central hospitals in order to meet population needs, presented by Dr. Patrick Noah, Head of the Department of Surgery for QECH;
- Economic Aspects of District Level Surgery focused on sharing findings about the costs of conducting surgery at the district hospital and the benefits of SURG-Africa in making surgery more accessible and affordable. The talk was delivered by prof. Leon Biljmakers, SURG-Africa principal investigator at the Radboud University Medical Center.
Finally, there was a presentation on district hospital clinical officers’ experience with SURG-Africa followed by an interactive session where the attendants shared their experience while working on the project. Also, taking advantage of this event, kidSURG, a new project launching in the coming months focused on surgery for children in Malawi, was introduced. This project builds on the lessons from SURG-Africa, but focuses specifically on paediatric patients in rural hospitals aiming to improve the quality of services offered to minors.