• Teaching humanitarian surgery: Filling the gap between NGO needs and subspecialized surgery through a novel inter-university certificate

      Thoma, M; Dominguez, L; Ledecq, M; Goolaerts, JP; Moreels, R; Nyaruhirira, I; Brichant, JF; Roumeguere, T; Reding, R (Taylor & Francis, 2020-12-17)
      Background: Access to surgical care is a global health burden. A broad spectrum of surgical competences is required in the humanitarian context whereas current occidental surgical training is oriented towards subspecialties. We proposed to design a course addressing the specificities of surgery in the humanitarian setting and austere environment. Method: The novelty of the course lies in the implication of academic medical doctors alongside with surgeons working for humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGO). The medical component of the National Defense participated regarding particular topics of war surgery. The course is aimed at trained surgeons and senior residents interested in participating to humanitarian missions. Results: The program includes theoretical teaching on surgical knowledge and skills applied to the austere context. The course also covers non-medical aspects of humanitarian action such as international humanitarian law, logistics, disaster management and psychological support. It comprises a large-scale mass casualty exercise and a practical skills lab on surgical techniques, ultrasonography and resuscitation. Attendance to the four teaching modules, ATLS certification and succeeding final examinations provide an interuniversity certificate. 30 participants originating from 11 different countries joined the course. Various surgical backgrounds, training levels as well as humanitarian experience were represented. Feedback from the participants was solicited after each teaching module and remarks were applied to the following session. Overall participant evaluations of the first course session are presented. Conclusion: Teaching humanitarian surgery joining academic and field actors seems to allow filling the gap between high-income country surgical practice and the needs of the humanitarian context.
    • Ten Years of Experience Training Non-Physician Anesthesia Providers in Haiti.

      Rosseel, P; Trelles, M; Guilavogui, S; Ford, N; Chu, K; Médecins Sans Frontières, rue Dupré 94, 1090, Brussels, Belgium. (2009-08-06)
      Surgery is increasingly recognized as an effective means of treating a proportion of the global burden of disease, especially in resource-limited countries. Often non-physicians, such as nurses, provide the majority of anesthesia; however, their training and formal supervision is often of low priority or even non-existent. To increase the number of safe anesthesia providers in Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières has trained nurse anesthetists (NAs) for over 10 years. This article describes the challenges, outcomes, and future directions of this training program. From 1998 to 2008, 24 students graduated. Nineteen (79%) continue to work as NAs in Haiti and 5 (21%) have emigrated. In 2008, NAs were critical in providing anesthesia during a post-hurricane emergency where they performed 330 procedures. Mortality was 0.3% and not associated with lack of anesthesiologist supervision. The completion rate of this training program was high and the majority of graduates continue to work as nurse anesthetists in Haiti. Successful training requires a setting with a sufficient volume and diversity of operations, appropriate anesthesia equipment, a structured and comprehensive training program, and recognition of the training program by the national ministry of health and relevant professional bodies. Preliminary outcomes support findings elsewhere that NAs can be a safe and effective alternative where anesthesiologists are scarce. Training non-physician anesthetists is a feasible and important way to scale up surgical services resource limited settings.
    • Traumatic Aortic Transection.

      Anakwe, R E B; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Borders General Hospital, Melrose, Scotland, UK. raymundus@doctors.org.uk (2005-06)
      Traumatic aortic transection is an uncommon but often fatal injury. It is typically a high energy injury and may occur in the multiply injured patient. This injury is often missed. There is evidence that airbags and seat belts protect against these injuries. We present the case of a patient who survived.
    • Traumatic Injuries are the Main Indication for Limb Amputations During and After Humanitarian Crises

      Naidu, P; Dominguez, LB; Trelles, M; Chu, KM (Springer, 2021-01-15)
      Background Populations at risk during humanitarian crises can suffer traumatic injuries or have medical conditions that result in the need for limb amputation (LA). The objectives of this study were to describe the indications for and associations with LA during and after humanitarian crises in surgical projects supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Methods MSF-Operational Center Brussels data from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2017, were analyzed. Surgical projects were classified into (annual) periods of crises and post-crises. Indications were classified into trauma (intentional and unintentional) and non-trauma (medical). Associations with LA were also reported. Results MSF-OCB performed 936 amputations in 17 countries over the 10-year study period. 706 (75%) patients were male and the median age was 27 years (interquartile range 17–41 years). Six hundred and twenty-one (66%) LA were performed during crisis periods, 501 (53%) during conflict and 119 (13%) post-natural disaster. There were 316 (34%) LA in post-crisis periods. Overall, trauma was the predominant indication (n = 756, 81%) and accounted for significantly more LA (n = 577, 94%) in crisis compared to post-crisis periods (n = 179, 57%) (p < 0.001). Discussion Our study suggests that populations at risk for humanitarian crises are still vulnerable to traumatic LA. Appropriate operative and post-operative LA management in the humanitarian setting must be provided, including rehabilitation and options for prosthetic devices.
    • Working on the Congolese front line

      Breuillac, B; Médecins Sans Frontières, Paris, France (2009-01-14)