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Smile Train Organises Paediatric Anaesthesia Training For Nigerian Doctors

In a bid to boost the rate of child survival in Nigeria, Smile Train, the foremost cleft-focused organisation globally, has recently empowered Nigerian health professionals with skills in paediatric anaesthesia to protect and ensure the survival of newborns and other children in the country.

The four-day Safe Paed workshop organised in collaboration with the Association of Anaesthetists and the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists which was the first of its kind in Nigeria, hosted 21 consultants from various teaching hospitals.

According to one of the facilitators and a Consultant Paediatric Anaesthesia at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Prof. Ronke Desalu, the training became necessary following the gaps in paediatric anaesthetists.

“We found out that there were very few paediatric anaesthetists in the country. In other parts of the world, you cannot anaesthetise a child unless you are a paediatric anaesthetist.

She emphasized the importance of anaesthetising children properly, adding that children have medical issues that they deal with, which are different from adults. “It is important we do it safely. “

Desalu noted that the course was designed to help the anaesthetists identify the children that require special preparation, “It is to show us the various ways to anesthetise the children safely, how to prepare and resuscitate them, and various areas of specialities like cleft lips, ENT, eyes and CPR for different age groups.”

Speaking effects of the brain drain and the need to retain health professionals, the Consultant Anaesthetist with two decades of practice said every professional wants security, good pay, good healthcare, accessible schools for their children, accessible roads and peace of mind.

“The basic social structure makes many people leave the country, especially young people. They are not leaving because they don’t like medical practice here or because they don’t want to help their fellow Nigerians. People are leaving the country for a better quality of life.”

Read Also: NSA: Only 1,200 Anaesthetists In Nigeria For 200m Nigerians

Desalu urged paediatric anaesthetists to do things right, “Don’t cut corners. You cannot cut corners with children. Follow the principles. Be prepared: have a plan A, plan B and a plan C even when the child looks the most simple.”

She advised child caregivers to see the patients as their children, “Keep the right standard, train others on that right standard. Don’t compromise them at all.

Speaking, the Senior Programme Manager of West Africa for Smile Train, Mrs. Victoria Awazie, explained that the training would reduce child mortality and protect the children in hospitals.

“Not that this training is new to them. It is to expose them to better handling and managing the children in the hospital to get better anaesthesia care.

Stating that children are unique, she said the participants are not from Lagos only as the course spread to three geopolitical zones.

Speaking, another facilitator, Dr. Alhassan David Muhammed, a Consultant Anaesthetist based in Kano State said: “The training is on how to anaesthetise a child properly in an orderly manner and in a much safer way”.

Muhammed also stressed that their aim is a better outcome, especially with cardiac surgery due to considerable challenges in anaesthetising children.

A participant and a consultant and physiologist, Dr. Edobong Efosa Festus, from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) said: “The pediatric fellowship is not so easy these days. It will take like a year to two to have a full fellowship in paediatrics anaesthesia. So Safepeds course is like a bridge gap. We have learnt a lot to help us conduct safe paediatrics anaesthesia, and we’ve had several lectures. ‘

The physiologist illustrated the lessons, including resuscitating adequately to save a life, how to manage difficult airways in children, how to approach a sick child, and sickle cell disease in children and burns.

The participants of the training are all fellows from the West African College of Surgeons and the National Postgraduate Medical College who are consultant anaesthetists in their facilities.