Launch week.

18 September 2015

It was launch week here for the Medical Capacity Building team - two big projects that have both begun extremely well.  Below are two articles I wrote to promote these initiatives both within and outside of Mercy Ships!  Thanks for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement as we seek to transform this nation's healthcare.

Launch - the Checklist Team!
11 September 2015

After a few years of dreaming and several months of planning, the Checklist team is officially about to launch!

On Sunday this team departs to the first of a twenty-city tour of Madagascar, visiting each region to come alongside the surgical teams in those regions and work together to improve surgical safety across the country. This training is in partnership with Harvard Medical School and Lifebox, a charity committed to putting a pulse oximeter in every operating room and improving surgical safety worldwide. This simple tool, along with the other critical steps included in the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, have been shown to cut operating room deaths and complications in nearly half!

The checklist team today, left to right: Emily Bruno (USA), Dr. Hasina (MDG), Ali Herbert (GBR), Dr. Nandi (MDG), Dr. Linden Baxter (GBR). This team will be together the first three months, others will rotate through after that time.

The three-day training structure includes sessions focused on empowering surgical teams with the knowledge that safe surgery is possible, and in their very own hands. They will work together to adapt the WHO checklist to fit their specific needs and environment; a critical step encouraged by the creators of the WHO Checklist! Other sessions include Lifebox training and counting of surgical swabs, needles, and instruments. This structure of training was first just an idea of Michelle White, then piloted in Congo and here in Madagascar both in Toamasina and Mahajanga during the last field service.

Sunday the team heads to Fenerive Est, in the region just north of Toamasina. Please pray for them; their teamwork, travel safety, and an ease of communication; also pray for the participants, that they would catch the vision and the heart of the project, to see transformation for them and for their patients. Updates from the team will be regularly posted here on Navigator and all blogs will be marked public - please share!

The Checklist team in their "office" this last two weeks - Midships, deck 6!

Also launching next week is the first of twelve courses we will be running in Antananarivo! Stay tuned, more info to come next week; please pray for Joan Kotze, Course Coordinator, the facilitators coming from England and the participants coming from all over Antananarivo.

--Krissy Close
Medical Capacity Building Manager AFM

Launch - Essential Surgical Skills, Antananarivo
18 September 2015

As mentioned in last weeks’ blog, not only did we launch the Checklist Team this week (watch for an update early next week) we also launched the first two of eighteen courses being offered this field service in Antananarivo!

The Essential Surgical Skills course, in partnership with the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons offers very practical, hands-on lessons and practice in knot tying, suturing, and handling and repair of different kinds of tissue. Professor Samison, acting dean of the School of Medicine in Antananarivo and chief visceral surgeon at HJRA has wanted to run this course for years, and even had all the materials donated by Ethicon, a branch of Johnson & Johnson, but hasn’t been able to get instructors to come. Mercy Ships was pleased to offer to fill this need! Professor Samison expressed his gratefulness, “It has been my dream to offer this course, thank you for helping my dream to come true.”

The first two-day course on Monday and Tuesday brought eight senior and experienced surgeons. They were eager to participate and appreciated the opportunity to practice their basic skills and have unlimited resources, like sutures and instruments, at their disposal, even if it was just for a few days!

The following day we offered a train-the-trainer session for those who participated in the first course. This is a critical element in all of the courses we are offering this field service; training up surgeons and other medical leaders to continue this teaching long after Mercy Ships’ departure! The participants were eager to discuss how to facilitate a course and to troubleshoot potential problems. They were all invited to then come to the second course, Thursday and Friday, and assist in teaching as they were able.

The second course has been quite different in scope, as instead of senior and experienced surgeons we have a room full of first year surgical specialty students – they already have completed their basic medical education and are now in the process of becoming surgeons. Their earnest faces and nervous laughter at their mistakes has made for a fun environment of learning and practicing their new skills.

Overall the first two courses have gone extremely well and the feedback received from the participants has been completely positive. It’s such an honor and a pleasure to serve the current and future surgeons of this country! May their passion for helping others and transforming their nation never fade.
Thanks to Ethicon for their support!

Special thanks to our instructors, Dr. John Whitaker, Dr. James Byrne, the ASGBI, Ethicon, Joan Kotze, Professor Samison, and HJRA Hospital.

Krissy Close
Medical Capacity Building Manager AFM

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