On January 31, 2020, the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) ran their sixth SAFE Paediatric Anaesthesia course in South Africa, in partnership with Mercy Ships and Aspen.

The course, facilitated by Dr Clover-Ann Lee, Specialist Paediatric Anaesthetist and Clinical Lead for SAFE Paediatrics South Africa, was held at the Port Shepstone Hospital, Kwazulu Natal. Faculty comprised of 10 South African Anaesthetic Consultants, including Mercy Ships Board Member, Dr Paul Theron, Specialist Anaesthetist. All 10 consultants attended in a volunteer capacity.

Twenty-nine delegates attended the course, bringing the number of anaesthesia providers trained nationally to 170. Two delegates were specialists, one working in the public and one in the private sector. Of the remaining 27 doctors, 2 were community service officers, 2 were in management positions, and 23 were medical officers. Six of these doctors had their Diploma in Anaesthesia. The delegates represented 16 hospitals in 3 provinces.

This model of one-on-one mentoring has proven invaluable in the roll out of the SAFE Paediatrics course in South Africa, where experienced consultants who have an interest both in teaching and in paediatric anaesthesia have been exposed to the course.

Delegate feedback was extremely positive with delegates reporting that the course:

– Was enjoyable

– Improved their knowledge

– Would change their clinical practice

– Was relevant to their day to day work

– Would improve the care they give to children

Onboard our hospital ship, the Africa Mercy (serving along the West and Central Coast of Africa), the SAFE Paediatric Anaesthesia course is part of the Medical Capacity Building Programs offered to medical professionals in the countries we serve. However, this was the first course that Mercy Ships were involved with in South Africa – and this was made possible due to the generous financial support of Aspen who provided full funding for the course.

Mercy Ships South Africa is working towards partnering with SASA to run at least 4 courses a year in the future.

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