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Minister Costello launches Mobile Surgical Skills Unit

Education, Health, Teaching and Learning, News/feature, Uganda, Tanzania, 2014


Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, TD, today launched a Mobile Surgical Skills Unit to provide surgical training in hospitals across Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Speaking at the launch at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Minister Costello said:

“This innovative project is an example of the Government’s efforts to harness the skills of Irish health experts and institutions to improve access to quality essential health services.

“In Irish Aid we have seen first-hand the value of institutional partnerships in health. We are particularly proud of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland collaboration programme with the College of Surgeons for East, Central and Southern Africa, COSECSA.

 “Since the first exams in 2004, 102 specialist surgeons have graduated with fellowships from COSECSA. As of March this year COSECSA has 209 surgical trainees in 33 training locations.

“The mobile unit will greatly contribute to improving both the quality of health services and access to those services for communities in East Africa." 

Highlighting the benefits of surgical training, Minister Costello said: 

“It is estimated that 11% of the global disease burden is caused by conditions that can be treated with surgery. Surgical interventions are, therefore, critically important to individual patients and a key intervention in improving health outcomes in some of the world’s poorest countries.

“Ireland’s support helps to address the challenge of tackling the significant shortage health workers with surgical skills in the region.”


Press Office
10 July 2014

 Notes to the editor:

• Irish Aid has funded the collaboration programme since 2008 and, to date has provided approximately €2.2million.

• This support has facilitated the contribution of an estimated further €1.9 million contribution in-kind by the RCSI.

• The Mobile Surgical Skills Unit is equipped with surgical training technology such as Virtual Reality simulators.

• It can accommodate ten surgical trainees at any one time and will deliver surgical training to world-class standards.

• The initiative is part of a well-established partnership initiative between RCSI, Irish Aid and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). 

• The RCSI and the COSECSA have been working together in a collaboration programme since 2007.

• Joint activities include a range of training courses, strategic planning, e-learning, finance, and administrative and capacity development.

• The training model followed by COSECSA for the membership and fellowship qualifications broadly follows the conventional apprenticeship model for surgical training with trainees working in accredited centres under the guidance of specialist surgeon.