Kenyan and Canadian Surgeons Improving Lives Together

The University of Alberta's Surgery Department has recently joined forces with North America's other top teaching hospitals to help save lives in Kenya, East Africa

02 August 2017

The University of Alberta's Surgery Department has recently joined forces with North America's other top teaching hospitals to help save lives in Kenya, East Africa. The universities offer research, training, and patient care. The department's Office of International Surgery (OIS) contributes to acute care, advanced education, and trauma services. Its work includes improving patient records system- current systems cause patient-record gaps, so health workers may misdiagnose malaria or cancer. OIS will soon follow this up by launching a 12-month international fellowship based between the Moi Hospital-the country's second-largest referral hospital, in the western city of Eldoret-and the University of Alberta where Kenyan and Canadian surgeons will specialize in trauma. OIS Advisor Jessica Hogan says, "It's the world we live in - there's no reason not to interconnect with this kind of stuff." It's win-win for both countries. Hogan says, "For a surgeon it transforms careers and perception of what they can do with surgical skills."

Within the next year, the OIS will work with members of The Academic Model for Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), in supporting medical curriculum development, improving burn data collection, and innovating burn and injury care. Members include Indiana University School of Medicine, Brown University School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center/Hubert-Yeargean Center for Global Health. AMPATH partners with local hospitals and universities.

A key player in helping to found the OIS was a University of Alberta surgeon Abdullah Saleh. He had previously founded an NGO, Innovative Canadians for Change (ICChange), which has worked in Kenya since 2007 to improve the quality of lives of vulnerable populations. Saleh helped establish OIS in collaboration with the Department of Surgery Chair and with support from other surgeons, including Dr Bryan Dicken and Dr Jaret Olson. ICChange provided support and programs and lent some of its administrative support to the OIS. ICC has developed an electronic medical record platform for low-resource and slum settings. After a successful pilot in clinics in the capital of Nairobi the next phase will be rolled out to clinics further afield. Saleh says, "It is always humbling and exciting to see pilot initiatives that we either developed or helped with grow and reach more people. It gives us renewed energy to keep pushing harder to reach for the next milestone and overcome the next set of challenges, and learn from our mistakes and failures."

ICChange created momentum in developing trauma surgery in Kenya through its independent initiatives and its partnerships with the Kenya Red Cross, the Surgical Society of Kenya, and other local organizations. It then formed the OIS to strengthen and expand its impact on innovative progress in trauma care in Kenya. The OIS later helped start the first American College of Surgeons-approved Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course in East Africa. ATLS is the worldwide gold standard for managing trauma patients. Hogan says, "Ideas increase efficiency of medical care in Kenya. We're improving lives together and that's exactly what this does."

Contact: Jessica Hogan Mobile: +1 (780) 267-8110