In the long-term, we envision developing countries having local capacity to provide quality health care to their communities. That’s why United Surgeons for Children (USFC) is dedicated to elevating local skills through training and technology transfer.
While our surgery program is vital to treat children’s urgent needs, our experience quickly showed us that missions were only the tip of the iceberg. In order to respond more effectively, we integrated multiple training, consultation and technology components into our programs.
Training Health Professionals on the Ground
During medical missions in developing countries, we take advantage of our expert USFC volunteers to build new skills among local staff. This includes a combination of lectures in hospitals, as well as hands-on, practical training – including education programs on diagnostic methods, identification of high-need cases, technical surgical training and post-operative monitoring. We have a “train the trainer” approach and we are proud to witness our growing chain of expertise. For example, the medical teams we trained at the Vien Tim Heart Institute in Ho-Chi-Minh, Vietnam, are now sharing their skills and knowledge of cardiac surgery with doctors and nurses in Senegal and Burkina Faso.
Learning must continue after mission teams leave the country. That’s why USFC has established programs at nearby universities and hospitals to teach core specializations like pediatric surgery. This is also why we continue to identify new educational partnership opportunities. In many cases, these programs are offered in facilities built or equipped by USFC and we ensure that certificates and degrees are issued to recognize professional competencies.
We invite you to learn more about USFC teaching programs…
Postdoctoral Diploma of Pediatric Surgery.
This program is offered in universities in the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo, with additional students coming from neighboring Benin and Guinea. USFC leads program design and is instrumental to the accreditation of this program. Through the diploma, we ensure that pediatric surgery becomes standardized in the region while the overall quality of care improves.
Postgraduate Medical Education Program.
This program is housed at the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children, benefiting approximately 50 residents each year in 7 specialties (pediatrics, pediatric surgery, cardiology, orthopedics, anesthetics, radiology and biology). USFC leads program development through theory and practice sessions from visiting experts, as well as through video conferences.
Training Health Professionals Abroad
At USFC, we know that growth of in-country medical professionals also requires advanced training opportunities that are not yet available in developing countries. That’s why we also give developing country health professionals the opportunity to learn in some of the top institutions in the world.
Through a combination of long-term internships and apprenticeship programs, developing country health professionals have the opportunity to learn at major European hospitals. Theoretical training programs last six months to one year, while practical training in a particular skill or technique lasts two months. After that time, these professionals return home to bring new skills that impact the quality of care for patients, as well as peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.
Technology to Support Distance Learning and Consultations
The USFC team knows that technology can be an incredible asset in facilitating international consultations and collaborations. Through new networks, we maintain a virtual support system for low-resource hospitals, which we are committed to expanding.
At the USFC Innovation Hub in Paris, our team builds strategies that place e-health and e-training at the heart of USFC medical and educational missions.
In addition to the use of teleconsultations and video conferencing in the education programs discussed above, the centerpiece of our technology programs are ECHOES© Cardio and OB-GYN.
Through ECHOES Cardio©, 640 tele-consultations were offered in 2019 alone. This remote live echocardiography program was launched by USFC in 2014, with weekly virtual consultations between leading cardiologists in France and medical teams in USFC program countries. Since its launch, ECHOES© has enabled more than 1,000 children to be diagnosed in 7 countries: Afghanistan, Benin, Cambodia, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Mozambique and Senegal. Over time, USFC will expand this program to an even greater number of hospitals and experts from around the world, with planned growth to Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Kenya.
Through ECHOES© OB-GYN, 50 tele-consultations were offered in 2018 alone, the year of its launch. ECHOES© OB-GYN is an evolution of our successful ECHOES© Cardio program, allowing more than 30 doctors at the Kabul French Medical Institute for Children in Afghanistan and the Mother-Child Hospital in Bengerville, Ivory Coast, to connect regularly with expert USFC gynecological teams in France.