Friday, February 10, 2012

Department of Anesthesia collaboration aims to improve postoperative care in rural Uganda

SUSTAINABLE SUPPORT: Modest, far right, works with Ugandan anesthesia residents.

IN THE UNITED STATES and other developed nations, caregivers can access to the latest technologies and techniques, allowing them to improve patient outcomes and comfort. Unfortunately, clinicians in developing countries often lack these critical resources. In an effort to improve postoperative pain management in rural Uganda, anesthesiologists from the MGH Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine – with support from the MGH Center for Global Health – recently worked with doctors at Mbarara University of Science and Technology to conduct a week-long seminar to teach anesthesia residents how to administer ultrasound-guided nerve blocks.

“Postoperative pain is poorly managed in Uganda. Our goal was to bring a new and innovative technique to Uganda to address this problem,” says anesthesiologist Paul Firth, MBChB, who helped start the program. “Although ultrasound has been widely used in U.S. anesthetic practice for five to 10 years, it didn’t exist in rural Uganda.”

Firth traveled to Uganda with a team of MGH physicians – including Vicki Modest, MD, and Peter Stefanovich, MD – to conduct the seminar. “The enthusiasm of the Ugandan anesthesiologists for learning ultrasound-guided nerve blocks was remarkable,” recalls Stefanovich.

The key, Firth says, is to introduce practices like these in a sustainable way so clinicians can build a health care infrastructure that supports clinical advances, education and research. To that end, Firth and his team also have been conducting medical lectures via Skype and are planning further collaborations with Mbarara University, including expanding an intensive care unit.

“By organizing these lectures over the net, Ugandan instructors are free to focus on other projects, including building our research capabilities,” says Steven Tendo, MD, a lecturer at the university. “The residents have been extremely interested; they now run the program without me.”

Read more articles from the 2/10/12 Hotline issue.


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