MSF-UBC Partnership: Essential Skills Surgical Training Program

There is a shortage of surgical providers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in countries that do not provide access to formal surgical training programs, such as South Sudan.





One of the potential solutions to this shortage of providers is training and validating non-surgeon physicians (NSP) to perform surgical procedures, which is called task-shifting or task-sharing. In 2019, a partnership between MSF Operational Center Paris (OCP) and UBC-BISC was agreed upon to create a surgical task-sharing curriculum, in order to help build capacity in MSF-surgical projects in South Sudan. A team of UBC affiliated professors designed an Essential Surgical Skills (ESS) curriculum, targeted for implementation in Aweil, South Sudan. Experienced specialists were chosen for designing each module, based on their expertise in their field as well as global surgery experience.

The training officially began July 1, 2019. This project is led by BISC Associate Director, Dr. Emilie Joos, who was scheduled to travel to Aweil in March 2020 to supervise and support the training program, however this was cancelled due to COVID-19. Most of the training is online so training is expected to be completed as planned in December 2021.

A five-year memorandum of understanding between UBC Department of Surgery and MSF-France was signed in 2021 which will pave the way for continued collaboration in the future.

BISC Associate Director, Dr. Emilie Joos is a practicing general surgeon and trauma surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital. She has been working with Médecins Sans Frontières since 2015 and was deployed several times in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017 she completed her Emergency Response Unit training with the Canadian Red Cross and is now on the roster for deployment. Dr. Joos is the Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Fellowship Program Director, Instructor for the Advanced Surgical Skills for Exposure in Trauma, and Advanced Trauma Life Support Course Director.

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