Local Capacity Building is Way to Go in Mitigating Brain Drain- Surgeon

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In efforts to maintain high standards of surgical services locally, governments across Africa have been urged to consider a partnership approach and invest in capacity building with conducive work environments for their medical professionals.

Prof Ben Jiburum, who is a Professor of Surgery and Consultant Plastic Surgeon with Imo State University Teaching Hospital and also an examiner with the West African College of Surgeons, in an interview with journalists via webinar acknowledged that brain drain is greatly paralyzing the surgical workforce in Africa, recommending that African governments learn from and adopt the Smile Train model of partnerships.

“Training of surgeons is expensive, and facilities for training are limited. Persons who have been trained locally and are desirous of further training often travel abroad. When they go out, the tendency is that they take what they are offered and not necessarily what they originally wanted to train in,” he said.

He added: “The way forward is for training colleges like WACS to expand training opportunities. With organisations like Smile Train, this can be scaled up. More training centres should be accredited after meeting our minimum standards with the support of well-meaning organisations and the government. We are more likely to retain most of the manpower if we provide the enabling environment for them to stay.”

Smile Train, which is the largest global cleft organization partners with local medical professionals, providing them with funding, training and resources to provide free, safe and quality cleft surgery and comprehensive care all year round.

Through strategic partnerships at the local and international level, Smile Train dedicates itself towards providing funding towards quality healthcare capacity building and advocacy to increase access to safer surgeries and cleft care in low- and middle-income countries. Some of the strategic investments in education and training include partnerships with Scottish Charity KidsOR, the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) to provide scholarships in various categories.

Recently, Smile Train has laid the foundation in Ghana for Africa’s first Cleft Leadership Centre to build the capacity of cleft professionals across the continent to dispense global standards of care at local level.