To improve and expand the skills base in sub-Saharan Africa, medical technology provider Medtronic Africa has opened a new medical training facility, in Johannesburg.
The simulator training facility is equipped with advanced medical tools and equipment to enhance learning capability and give physicians of all experience levels the opportunity to practise procedures in a safe environment, before attempting them in real life.
Medtronic Africa regional director Mike Howe-Ely reveals that the facility is equipped with a wet-lab to train cardiac-, spine- and neurosurgeons, as well as two full-time virtual catheterisation labs.
The wet-lab has actual sheep vertebrae, scapulas and skulls. Product managers are available in the labs to provide the trainees with detailed information about the equipment.
The catheterisation labs will benefit practitioners who are responsible for the implantation of cardiac devices, such as pacemakers and coronary stents, which require highly specialised and technically skilled medical practitioners.
“We wanted to establish a facility where physicians from various Southern African countries could have access to simulator training, as well as the skills they might not have the opportunity to develop in their own countries. My hope is that this will be the facility of choice for medical training,” says Howe-Ely.
Training takes place throughout the year and various modules are taught by medical professionals at no charge.
The facility also houses full-time lecture rooms for local and international medical experts to discuss different medical procedures and issues with interested doctors, nurses and surgeons.
Medical practitioners and scrub nurses are trained on the equipment used in theatre and trainers also accompany doctors and surgeons to real-life operations, where they offer their expertise and advice.
Howe-Ely reveals that the facility has had an overwhelming response from doctors from Mauritius, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria.
“We are committed to increase patients’ access to our technologies in South Africa and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. Higher skilled doctors will also ensure that the patient receives the correct treatment,” he states.
Further, Howe-Ely says it is the priority of healthcare professionals to transfer skills and make local expertise available, as many patients tend to go to other countries for treatment, instead of seeking medical help locally.
He stresses that it is important that medical technologies are used correctly and that professionals are able to control or manage the outcome of procedures.
The high costs and difficulty in accessing healthcare need to be dealt with and Howe-Ely believes that training and edu- cation could go a long way to mitigating these issues.
Training and education in emerging medical markets, as well as investment in training can make it easier for patients to access healthcare, he concludes.