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Lasting impact: insights from a surgical mission-based mentoring training programme in the Republic of Congo

Abstract

The global shortage of surgeons, anaesthetists and obstetricians is significant, especially in low and middle income countries (LMICs). A significant amount of LMIC surgical volume is provided by surgical missions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are often well resourced, making them ideal environments for training. However, there are few publications addressing how to train in this setting, or the long-term impact of such training. Mercy Ships operates the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world, the Africa Mercy, serving LMICs at the invitation of their President by providing free surgery and training for the surgical workforce. Mercy Ships developed and offered a comprehensive training programme across surgical specialties and disciplines in the Republic of Congo, 2013–2014. In this analysis paper, we present our experiences in developing and implementing the training portion of the programme. We also present the findings of an evaluation of the programme, which show a sustained positive impact and lasting change on personal and organisational practice 12–18 months post-training. We also make recommendations to NGOs and surgical mission organisations seeking to augment the impact of surgical missions with effective surgical training programmes.

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