By Sophie G. Beauvais, GHDonline

Participants from all over the world are currently debating paths to sustainable partnerships for surgical capacity in poor regions on an online forum. Questions they are grappling with include:

  • What characterizes strong, egalitarian academic surgery and anesthesia partnerships, and how can groups get there?
  • What key infrastructure must be enhanced to support such partnerships?
  • What outcomes could be measured to evaluate the quality and sustainability of these partnerships?

These discussions are part of a GHDonline Expert Panel Discussion organized in collaboration with the University of British Columbia’s Branch for International Surgery right before the 2nd Annual Conference on Surgery & Anesthesia in Uganda starting Saturday in Vancouver. The panelists leading the discussion are experts working in Zambia, Canada, the United States, and Uganda.

Many patients in rural areas and in the developing world are not able to receive life-saving surgeries because of the lack of surgeons, anesthesiologists, or other clinicians that have had basic surgical and anesthesiology training. Building capacity on the ground and across the board is essential. The GHDonline community brings together surgeons, anesthesiologist, and a variety of health professionals to do just that.


Dr. Nadie Semer

For one of the community moderators, Dr. Nadine Semer, a plastic surgeon who spends a portion of her time volunteering in rural areas of the developing world and also published two practical guides: The Help Guide to Basics of Wound Care and Practical Plastic Surgery for Nonsurgeons, it’s really about “opening up the potential for collaboration, offering fresh perspectives on recurring problems, and fostering the development of new innovative solutions.”

On the question of sustainable partnerships, Semer notes that “From my experience at a rural orthopedics hospital in South Africa […] local doctors felt they had no authority over the resident, nor did they have the time to try to exert any authority - they were working under incredibly difficult conditions to just keep things going.”

She concluded saying that there needs to be “a commitment to continuous evaluation of the ongoing partnership and programs, always looking for ways for improvement as well as looking out for the unintended consequences that can show up despite the best efforts of everyone involved.

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