Global Health

December 12, 2013

GE grant expands global medical outreach efforts

Vanderbilt University has received a $3 million grant from the GE Foundation’s Developing Health Globally program to fund international medical education and research in Kenya and other low-resource regions of the world.

Vanderbilt University has received a $3 million grant from the GE Foundation’s Developing Health Globally program to fund international medical education and research in Kenya and other low-resource regions of the world.

The major focus of this program is to develop training programs that can lower surgical and obstetric mortality, as well as improve and expand education of anesthesia providers in these regions.

Through the ImPACT Africa (Improving Perioperative & Anesthesia Care and Training in Africa) grant, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology will expand its current efforts to directly improve anesthetic care in medically underserved areas.

This will include the development of an innovative, interactive curriculum to train anesthesia providers who will practice in rural Kenya and other regions of the world.

Mark Newton, M.D.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, and, although exact figures aren’t available, it is expected that the region has the highest surgical and anesthesia-related mortality as well,” said Mark Newton, M.D., associate clinical professor of Anesthesiology and a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“This grant will greatly further our efforts to directly save lives and dramatically improve health care by training providers in underserved areas of the world. It is hard for me to express how thankful I am for this. We have the faculty and knowledge to translate an anesthesia education program we already operate in Kenya into a program that can be easily duplicated throughout the world, and with this grant, we can do just that.”

Newton directs the Vanderbilt International Anesthesia (VIA) program and divides his time between being a pediatric anesthesiologist at Vanderbilt and serving as chief anesthesiologist for Kijabe Hospital in rural Kenya. Under his guidance, young Vanderbilt anesthesiologists travel to Kenya annually to receive training and to educate others in providing anesthesia and pain management services. In partnership with the Kenya Ministry of Health, Newton also developed an anesthesia training program for Kenyan anesthesia providers.

With the support of the GE Foundation grant, Vanderbilt will partner with Kijabe Hospital and the Center for Public Health and Development (CPHD) in Kenya to develop an anesthesia training program for Western Kenya that can be scaled within the country.

This program will serve as a model for the creation and expansion of sustainable, safe anesthesia services in other developing countries. The curriculum is planned to include simulation training, an area in which Vanderbilt anesthesiologists are national leaders.

Matthew McEvoy, M.D., vice chair for Educational Affairs for the Department of Anesthesiology, has been named the Vanderbilt-based primary investigator for the grant, while Newton will serve as the Kenyan-based primary investigator. Kelly McQueen, M.D., MPH, director of Vanderbilt Anesthesia Global Health and Development, will also serve in a key role.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to GE for this grant,” said Warren Sandberg, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Anesthesiology. “Our faculty members have long been committed to international anesthesia education and training, and this award is a wonderful affirmation that those efforts have not gone unnoticed and that we are making a significant difference in the lives of individuals a continent away.”

According to the World Journal of Surgery, it is estimated that in rural areas of Kenya, there is only one anesthesiologist for every 13 surgeons.

Through the Developing Health Globally program, GE has partnered with the Kenya Ministry of Health to improve the surgical capacity in Western Kenya through equipping operating rooms and providing training.

“Without access to safe anesthesia, critical health issues such as maternal and infant mortality rates cannot be improved,” said Jay Ireland, CEO of GE Africa. “It’s estimated that only 6 percent of people in developing nations have access to safe anesthesia, and this GE Foundation grant is an effort to grow the number of local health care workers trained in anesthesiology.”