Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Contributing to a new movement in anaesthesia care


Laura Macpherson, Grants Officer at THET, shares her impressions following a recent monitoring visit to health partnership projects in Ethiopia, which are funded through the DFID/THET Health Partnership Scheme (HPS).

In June I travelled with my colleague Emily Burn (Evaluation and Learning Coordinator) and two DFID representatives to monitor the progress of seven health partnerships in Ethiopia. We anticipated that a monitoring trip to Ethiopia promised insights into an exciting health context and would allow us to verify some examples of truly successful partnership working.

We were not proved wrong. A highlight for me was our visit to Jimma University Hospital (JUH), which partners with the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) and the Association of Anaesthetists of Uganda (AAU) to deliver the SAFE Paediatric Anaesthesia in East and Central Africa project. Faced with the reality of extremely basic anaesthetic equipment, very few anaesthetists, a lack of continuing professional development opportunities, only five ICU beds, compounded by a recent increase in road traffic accidents across the country, the senior residents who had received training through this project have been inspired to make a difference and are working against the odds at JUH. As Tirunesh Gemechu, Anaesthesia Resident states:

‘It is very challenging, and it would be much easier for me to go through other departments and specialise in them. There are very few trainers, very limited equipment to practice, and very few consultants with knowledge to pass down.’

Tirunesh Gemechu, Anaesthesia Resident. (Photo: Emily Burn)

They commented that they are noticing a real difference in the way they treat patients on a daily basis, are now much more confident in caring for newborns in particular, and are eager to share their learning with colleagues.

‘The course has filled a major gap I had in paediatric anaesthesia. I am now more confident to practice that. I was able to meet people who can help me get more learning and more experiences and even more rotations outside of Ethiopia. We were trained with international participants so I could learn from them and hopefully learn from them in the future.’ Says Tirunesh.

The project is also contributing to a new movement across the country that is seeing more attention being given to the specialty of anaesthesia, which is clearly much-needed.

The visit has reiterated the value of visiting projects in person. This really allows you to appreciate the numerous and varied benefits to health partnership working that are difficult to capture without discussion. I count myself lucky to have seen first-hand the impact that all of the projects are making across the country.