Our Overseas Work
BSSH Overseas Committee Update October 2016
BSSH now has a new subcommittee formed to build upon the excellent work supported by BSSH since the overseas budget was established in 2009. We have a chair and committee members with approved Terms of Reference and a vision “To use BSSH resource to deliver maximum possible benefit for patients in need of hand surgery in the developing world.”
We have agreed principles that we will support the costs of BSSH members travelling to developing countries to further local education and training in hand surgery. We are developing a portfolio of projects that aim to produce sustainable benefits. The appetite for overseas work amongst the membership has been demonstrated by the large number of members who have already volunteered for our projects. We have learnt that benefits are maximised by collaboration with local surgeons and other voluntary organisations.
Our established projects are outline as follows:
We have supported Donald Sammut to continue his work in training local surgeons in reconstructive techniques particularly in burns and leprosy. Selected Nepalese surgeons have had sabbaticals in the UK to further their education. Further information on his work there in 2015 can be found here and in 2016 here. Donald's personal view on leprosy can be viewed here.
This long term project in collaboration with ReSurge Africa is to support the development of the first reconstructive surgical unit in this desperately poor country. Since the project was initiated by Barbara Jemec in 2010 we have supported 17 surgical missions involving 36 BSSH members leading multidisciplinary teams. After a 2 ½ year hiatus due to Ebola the missions recommenced in November 2016 with the goal of a reconstructive surgical unit staffed by local surgeons by 2020 remaining on track.
The Holy Spirit Hospital (HSH) was established by Dr Turay and, with help from the Albano Diocese of Italy, now has 70 beds, an Outpatients Department, x-ray, a Pharmacy and two operating theatres. See a picture of one of the teams with the HSH staff here.
Working in collaboration with World Orthopaedic Concern and the countries only hand surgeon we have supported delivery of a Hand Trauma Workshop. This workshop was delivered by Jonathan Jones and Bo Polvsen to the countries Orthopaedic Clinical Officers who provide the initial care for all hand injuries. Further workshops and educational support are planned.
We have responded to a request from local surgeons to develop and deliver a series of educational workshops covering the hand curriculum. To date courses on hand and wrist trauma (Jeremy Field, Valerie Nunez, Claire Wildin and Steve Hodgson), nerve injury (Andy Hart and Rod Dunn) have been well received by a large number of local plastic and orthopaedic surgeons. The third course on congenital hand and the mutilated hand is planned for December 2016. The long term goal is to support the development of a Sudanese Society for Surgery of the Hand bringing together the currently separate and generalist groups of plastic and orthopaedic surgeons.
This project is led by BFIRST (BAPRAS overseas charity) delivering 3 year hand curriculum training tailored to local needs. Local surgeons are now performing brachial plexus and peripheral nerve reconstructions. There may be an opportunity to broaden the training to including hand fractures on future visits.
In addition to our established projects we are exploring potential for members to support surgeons in Ethiopia and Uganda. We are open to suggestions from members for BSSH involvement in other countries. To further support overseas surgeons we plan to establish an annual BSSH Travelling Fellowship open to developing world surgeons to undertake a visit to a unit of their choice. In order to widen the interest in overseas work we will be running a one day course on April 7th 2017 designed to equip BSSH and BAPRAS members to perform overseas work. This will be free to all BSSH members.
In summary, BSSH Overseas Committee is here to help coordinate and support members performing valuable work overseas. Maximum benefit will be produced by supporting sustainable long term projects with a focus on educating local surgeons to perform high quality hand surgery. It is important we collaborate with and learn from other surgical charities such as BFIRST and WOC. There are many opportunities for members to get involved. These include joining our contact list, volunteering to take part in established projects or proposing further projects.
If you would like to get involved in any way please email Steve Hodgson, Chair, BSSH Overseas Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKING HANDS is a UK Registered Charity that raises funds for a surgical programme, currently based at a leprosy hospital in Nepal, supporting a team of Hand Surgeons who travel there to operate and to teach the local surgeons. Working Hands is independent, not linked to any major organization, and all donated funds find their way directly to the front line of treatment, purchasing equipment and consumables for each trip. Donald Sammut has received funds to promote the work of the charity, more information can be found here.
Reports on past visits to Sierra Leone