The first cardiac surgery simulation laboratory for training cardiac (heart) surgeons has been launched at the Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital in Nairobi.
The training centre is expected to contribute to efforts to increase the number of cardiac surgeons in the region. It is estimated that about 80% to 90% of Kenyan children who require cardiac surgeries do not receive them, this partly due to a shortage of cardiac surgeons. Currently 4 to 5 heart surgeons are trained in Kenya each year; we need to train at least 20 annually.
As a way of addressing the gap, the hospital has teamed up with the University of Nairobi and the German Heart Institute to improve training for cardiac surgeons through the newly established East African Simulation Centre for Cardiovascular Surgery,
The Gertrude’s Hospital in Muthaiga will house the Centre, while the University of Nairobi will provide the trainers who will use the equipment donated by the German Heart Institute to improve training for cardiovascular surgery students and professionals.
Dr. Thomas Ngwiri, Gertrude’s Head of Clinical Services, stated that the Centre, which aims to improve the skills of cardiac surgery trainees and professionals in Kenya and East Africa, will complement the hospital’s initiatives to provide early diagnosis and effective treatment for cardiovascular illnesses in children.
“We expect the number of children who require treatment, including surgery, to grow rapidly as better diagnosis takes root in many of our hospitals which will create more demand for cardiac surgeons. In anticipation of that, we have partnered with the cardiothoracic surgery training programme at the University of Nairobi. The trainees in the programme will be utilising the skills lab as part of their hands-on training,” said Dr. Ngwiri.
On his part, Dr. Mark Awori, a consultant cardiovascular surgeon at Gertrude’s Hospital and senior lecturer of paediatric and congenital cardiovascular surgery and the University of Nairobi underscored the value that the centre will create for students and cardiac surgery professionals.
“Kenya has a real shortage of heart surgeons. We started a local training programme about 9 years ago and are currently training 4 to 5 surgeons every year, but we need a lot more, approximately 20 per year. The Skills Lab is a way of giving more hands-on training that allows us to train more surgeons faster,” said Dr. Awori.
Prof. Fredrick Otieno, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Nairobi, commended the partners for working to improve healthcare provision in the country, noting that private sector has a key role to play in advancing training for healthcare professionals.
“We appreciate the initiative to train highly specialised personnel in this surgical discipline and are happy that private sector is taking a major step forward to augment existing training facilities. We want to expand this network both for highly specialised training and service provision,” said Prof. Otieno.
The new centre is expected to grow to serve the whole East African region, providing training and skills improvement for cardiac surgeons by inviting professionals to utilise the facility.