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WFSA officials discuss the role of anaesthesia at the Pan African Association of Surgeons (PAAS) International Conference

bisola and gonzaloWFSA President, Dr Gonzalo Barreiro, and Chair of the WFSA’s African Regional Section, Dr Bisola Onajin-Obembe, attended the Pan African Association of Surgeons (PAAS) International Conference on the “Implementation of Global Surgery in Africa” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The WFSA representatives gave presentations on the crucial role of anaesthesia in African health policy as well as the WFSA’s role in health system strengthening.

Dr Barreiro spoke about the structure, mission and vision of the WFSA. He elaborated on the work done to scale-up anaesthesia practice around the world. He reiterated that safe anaesthesia is necessary for safe surgery and that it is important to find common ground between surgeons and anaesthesiologists. Finally, he expressed his concern about duplication and overlapping efforts, as well as the surgical community’s preoccupation with data that may hinder low resource countries who do not have data from taking appropriate action and moving forward.

Dr Onajin-Obembe then discussed anaesthesia as part of universal health coverage (UHC) and added that the surgical safety checklist is a vital instrument for monitoring patient safety in the operating room. She also addressed the shortage of anaesthesiologists throughout Africa, highlighting her own country of Nigeria, which has a density of 0.4 anaesthesiologists per 100,000 people. Dr Onajin-Obembe stressed the WFSA’s longstanding commitment to networking and working together. She discussed the urgent need to build the appropriate anaesthesia competencies in Africa, with an emphasis on anaesthesia as a medical practice, highlighting the importance of training and employing healthcare practitioners to combat “brain-drain” and the overrepresentation of doctors in urban centres.

PAAS 2017.14Dr Mustapha Kalolo, who represented the Chairperson of African Union noted that, since more than 70% of population in the world lacked access to safe surgery, many in Sub-Saharan Africa, it was imperative that a conference on implementation of global surgery, such as the PAAS International Conference, be held in Africa. Indeed, with 5 billion of the world's 7 billion people without access to safe and affordable anaesthesia and surgical care when needed, the WFSA continues to work to advance the crucial role of anaesthesia as a component of universal health coverage (UHC), and will work with African partners to ensure governments and stakeholders scale-up anaesthesia practice on the continent in the coming years.

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