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The COSECSA Oxford Orthopaedic Link (COOL) programme which links the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and NDORMS at the University of Oxford delivered two surgical courses in Africa last month.

Hip and Knee Course, Zimbabwe 2015
Hip and Knee Course, Zimbabwe 2015

Professor Lavy, who leads the COOL programme, commented, 'It is wonderful to see UK colleagues help strengthen the health workforce overseas in places where there is a real shortage of health workers. These training courses have helped to improve care for many patients affected by musculoskeletal conditions. Moreover, our teams have returned to the UK with a renewed commitment and passion for their clinical practice here.'

Consultant surgeons Max Gibbons, Duncan Whitwell and Henk Giele from the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre trained 37 Ethiopian surgeons in the management of malignant bone tumours and the use of flaps for reconstructive surgery at CURE Ethiopia Children's Hospital and Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa.

Duncan Whitwell teaching at tumour course in Africa

Photo: Duncan Whitwell teaching at tumour course.

The surgical management of these tumours in Ethiopia is primarily amputation based, with little available expertise to offer limb-sparing surgery. Due to the high level of trauma secondary to road traffic accidents, there is a great need to train the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons in the use of muscle and fasciocutaneous flaps for open fractures.

Max Gibbons, course director, commented, "Surgeons and patients are the same the world over. What this course gave to all of us was a greater understanding of how we share the same problems. Courses such as these are an opportunity to share all we know and have experienced, which is of great benefit to our future patients. To give an example, a patient arrived at the hospital on the last day with severe trauma due to an animal bite. The local surgeons and visiting faculty discussed how to avoid amputation for this patient with a flap and soft tissue reconstruction technique learnt on a cadaver earlier in the day."

The Ethiopia tumour course was followed by a hip and knee surgery course hosted by United Bulawayo Central Hospital in Zimbabwe.

NDORMS orthopaedic surgeons Hemant Pandit (course director) and Professor Chris Lavy, as well as NOC consultant orthopaedic surgeons Roger Gundle, Adrian Taylor, Chris Dodd, Max Gibbons and consultant anaesthetist David Pigott trained 35 orthopaedic registrars from Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

One Zimbabwean orthopaedic registrar said, "Thank you very much for a wonderful and very insightful course - it really opened my eyes to the infinite possibility and needs of orthopaedics in Africa."

These two surgical courses were part of the COSECSA Oxford Orthopaedic Link (COOL) programme which links the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and NDORMS at the University of Oxford. In addition to funding from the Health Partnership Scheme (UK Department for International Development and Tropical Health Education Trust), the courses also received support from industry, with Stanmore Implants co-funding the tumour course and Zimmer Biomet providing saw bone equipment for the hip and knee course workshops.