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Grant helps expand training outreach program in Kenya

May. 21, 2015, 10:37 AM

During rotation in Kijabe, Kenya, third-year Vanderbilt anesthesiology resident Jessica Mudrick, M.D., helps train local anesthesiology providers. (photo by Sam Hurd)

In an especially underserved region of western Kenya, expectant mothers requiring cesarean section are the focus of a new $2.6 million grant to Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Kenya’s AIC Kijabe Hospital and the Kenya-based Center for Public Health and Development.

The grant, awarded by the GE Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, will seek to improve surgical safety by advancing anesthesia and obstetric surgery team training and coordination.

The grant signals the expansion of VUMC’s Department of Anesthesia’s longstanding training outreach program in Kenya.

“This new funding will help us continue our push to develop and evaluate solutions that can speed improvement of anesthesiology and surgical safety in underserved regions more generally,” said Mark Newton, M.D., associate clinical professor of Anesthesiology, director of Vanderbilt International Anesthesia and an investigator for Vanderbilt’s part in the grant.

The grant will fund:

• Training for an additional 25 Kenyan anesthesiology providers;

• Development of a mobile patient simulation program for team training in rural hospitals, focused on obstetrical emergencies;

• Additional training for selected established western Kenya anesthesia providers, who will in turn train new providers; and

• A western Kenya center devoted to anesthesiology clinical care, education and research.
“The goal isn’t to provide care and then leave — we’re there to train Kenyans,” said another investigator on the grant, Matthew McEvoy, M.D., associate professor of Anesthesiology and vice-chair for Educational Affairs in the department.

“More of our faculty will be able to visit Kenya to provide training, and they’ll return in subsequent years to provide follow-up. And we’ll be hiring as many locals as possible to assist the effort,” McEvoy said.

The grant builds on a previous $3 million grant from the GE Foundation to VUMC to support anesthesiology training and research in Kenya.

“We’re in this for the long run. And the beauty is it’s all done with people in Kenya,” said Newton, who spends 11 weeks a year at Vanderbilt and devotes the balance of his effort to practicing and teaching in Africa.

“It’s always great when people are in a position to drop in to help by providing care. But developing and sustaining an 18-month training program to lift a profoundly underserved region — that’s something altogether different and more complex.

“We’re grateful to both of these agencies for their generous support. I don’t know of another major foundation or government agency focusing on medical education for anesthesia in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Vanderbilt helps support residency rotations for African doctors at AIC Kijabe Hospital, which is located some 30 miles northwest of Nairobi on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. Third-year VUMC anesthesiology residents also are eligible for rotations at the hospital.

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