Our Overseas Work
Overseas committee members have access to the overseas work resources section, to view this click here. To request permission for access to this page, email firstname.lastname@example.org
BSSH has been supporting members to perform voluntary work overseas since 2010. From modest beginnings responding to an invitation to lead surgical mission to Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone the work has steadily grown so that in 2019 we have educational projects in 10 low to middle income countries (LMICs). Providing hand surgery education to surgeons and their teams in LMICs is an excellent use of BSSH member’s skills, knowledge and commitment to hand surgery. It is in keeping with the objective of the society “to further the development of hand surgery by education and research.”
For further information on each of our ongoing projects please click here
An Interview with Overseas Chair Jonathan Jones
In early 2010 ReSurge Africa (a charity supporting the development of surgical services in Africa) invited BSSH to support an ambitious project to develop reconstructive surgical services, including hand surgery, in one of the poorest countries in the world, Sierra Leone. This invitation was bravely accepted by Barbara Jemec who persuaded BSSH Council to provide some initial funding. BSSH members stepped forward to lead multidisciplinary teams including hand surgeons, anaesthetists, therapists and nurses on two week trips to perform surgery and train local staff. This project confirmed the interest of BSSH members in performing voluntary work overseas with many members taking part and a waiting list of interested members developing. The level of interest stimulated BSSH Council to continue their support for this work
We were able to provide support to the Working Hands project in Nepal. This long term project led by Donald Sammut delivers hands on training and mentorship to local surgeons focussing on reconstructive surgery of the hand. BSSH support for this project continued for four years and confirmed the importance of a long term project to train local surgeons leaving a legacy that will benefit patients for years to come
The work in Sierra Leone has continued after temporary suspension during the Ebola crisis. By the end of 2019 BSSH will have supported 19 visits with Holy Spirit Hospital, Makeni now being ready to receive two local surgeon who have been trained in reconstructive surgery for 6 years in Ghana. The first Abdulai is due to return in late 2019, the second Eric in 2020. They will deliver the first reconstructive surgical service in the country and are already beginning with BSSH support to deliver hand trauma training to the countries Medical Officers, surgical trainees and Surgical Community Health Officers. BSSH will continue to mentor the two surgeons.
The success in these two countries stimulated interest in expanding our overseas work and attracted interest from surgeons in other LMICs. Opportunities were identified in Sudan and Malawi. It was felt necessary to form a formal BSSH Sub-Committee to oversee and coordinate this work. The BSSH Overseas Committee commenced its work in 2016 developing a 5 year overseas strategy (see separate item) to contribute to the overall BSSH strategy the overall, ensuring that projects are accessible and visible to BSSH members, ensuring learning from each project and developing an overseas educational resource
We now have projects in 8 countries – Sierra Leone, Sudan, Malawi, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Bangladesh. Some of these projects are delivered in collaboration with other surgical associations most notably BFIRST (British Foundation for International Reconstructive Surgery) an organisation of Plastic Surgeons many of whom are BSSH members
Reports of many recent visits to project countries can be found here.
During 2019 we will have supported projects in 8 countries with 23 BSSH members delivering training to a total of over 475 surgeons and associated staff.
Prior the Coronavirus outbreak we had many plans for this year with visits planned to all our project countries. Building on the projects in Malawi and Uganda we are in discussions to make a c=similar contribution to the Confederation of Surgical Societies of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). Our long term goal is to work with these two surgical organisations to develop an accredited Hand Diploma designed for surgeons in Africa
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.
How to get involved
- Volunteer to join a visit to a project country (see project lead details above)
- Apply for a BSSH Overseas Trainee Fellowship open to BSSH Associate Members
- Volunteer to host a webinar
- Apply to join the BSSH Overseas Committee when the expression of interest is circulated
- Suggest a new project country
If you would like to get involved in any way please email Jonathan Jones, Chair, BSSH Overseas Committee at email@example.com.