Friday December 17, 10:00 – 10:30 – Channel 2
This year’s Sir Robert Macintosh lecture discussing the anaesthesia workforce will be given by Professor of Anaesthesia Bisola Onajin-Obembe, the University of Port Harcourt and Consultant Anaesthesiologist at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria.
She will explain that the insufficient surgical workforce including a lack of physician led-anaesthesia care is a major barrier to safe essential and emergency care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The global surgical workforce map showed that a third of the world is served by only 12% of the specialist surgical workforce. The global anaesthesia workforce map showed that anaesthesiologists are scarce in LMIC.
The concept of an “anaesthesia workforce pipeline” refers to a pool of anaesthetists ready to work at all the levels required within a country’s healthcare system. The concept of “pass on the baton” is an allusion to a relay race in which one runner hands a baton to the next runner. Therefore, passing the baton occurs when we successfully hand over a particular duty or responsibility, this technique allows us to pass the baton to the next generation.
Professor Onajin-Obembe says: “I will illustrate the failure to pass the baton using the most recent experience in Uganda. Although the country enjoyed international partnerships prior to the coronavirus pandemic, they left Uganda without a prepared workforce. This is because of failure to train and empower the next generation of specialists to pass the baton to.”
Nigeria enjoyed international partnerships in the early 1960s following an initiative taken by Dr Moses Majekodunmi, the Nigerian minister of health at that time. Dr Shirley Fleming from the University of Toronto, Canada organized the first autonomous department of anaesthesia in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa from 1962-1968. After training the workforce, Dr Shirley Fleming passed on the baton to the next departmental chair, namely Dr Wesley Famewo who later passed it on to Dr Dorothy Foulkes-Crabbe. This Canadian-Nigerian Collaboration influenced the growth of anaesthesia in Nigeria and Africa.
Professor Onajin-Obembe concludes: “I will share the outcome of an implementation action research using the diploma in anaesthesia (DA) programme of the West African College of Surgeons. It is participatory and can strategically increase the anaesthesia workforce pipeline. The DA can contribute to scaling up anaesthesia services, strengthening the workforce, as well as encourage ‘brain gain’ as demonstrated at the Federal Medical Center, Abuja, Nigeria.”
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