In 2013, the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) in partnership with COSECSA established the Essential Surgical Training (EST) Programme. EST is aimed at equipping General Medical Officers (GMOs – i.e. general practioners, nurses and anaesthetic technicians) in rural hospitals with basic surgical and referral techniques.
EST is critical because surgery in district and provincial hospitals across the COSECSA region is frequently practiced by GMOs who have no structured training apart from peer training and support systems. EST trainings are conducted by experienced, senior level COSECSA surgeons. The trainings focus on trauma, general surgery problems and also addresses management of actual emergencies. Each year there are 4-6 sessions in each EST Country.
Priority is given to the most remote hospitals as most city district hospitals benefit from greater learning opportunities. The EST Programme commenced with a one year pilot programme in Zimbabwe and expanded to Rwanda and Zambia in late 2014. It is anticipated that the EST Programme will extend to other COSECSA Member Countries in the coming years with support from Health Ministries and international partners. Each EST Programmes has a dedicated Programme Coordinator. For more information see the EST country profiles.
COSECSA, in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, iheed, the World Health Organisation Emergency and Essential Surgical Care programme (WHO EESC) and a number of other partners, has produced an open access e-learning tool for non-specialist medics who perform basic surgery and anaesthesia in resource poor settings. This tool is based on the WHO EESC Emergency Trauma Care course.
The Rwanda EST Programme was established in November 2014 by COSECSA, the Rwanda Surgical Society (RSS) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI). The 2015 REST Programme takes place in rural hospitals, bringing together GPs (General Practioners), anaesthetic assistants and theatre nurses. There are currently 45 district hospitals and 4 referral hospitals in Rwanda.
REST trainings have been completed by over 20 non-surgeons/General Practioners from 15 district hospitals. Each training takes place over 3 days per session: Day 1 focuses on theory, patient screening and theatre preparation and pre-workshop evaluation; Days 2 and 3 are dedicated theatre days.
Curriculums are not uniform and vary from training to training. A sample REST curriculum is available below.
REST Programme Coordinator
Mercy Kamukama completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Arts with Education at the Kigali College of Education, ICT training at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, and COSECSA training in Tanzania. She previously worked at Wagtech International and at the Rwanda Organization for Community Health Development. She is currently serves as the Coordinator for Rwanda Essential Surgery Training (REST) for the Rwanda Surgical Society and COSECSA.
If you are interested in learning more about or participating in the REST trainings you can contact Mercy at email@example.com