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Anesthesiology project set to expand in Africa

Jan. 10, 2019, 10:36 AM

by Janelle Grewell

Following the success of its ImPACT-Kenya (Improving Perioperative Anesthesia Care and Training) project, the Department of Anesthesiology has received another grant to expand into neighboring Ethiopia.

Mark Newton, MD, and Bantayehu Sileshi, MD, are leading the project with $376,000 in support from GE Foundation and ELMA Philanthropies.

Under the original four-year grant in Kijabe, Kenya, the ImPACT Africa program trained 150 Kenyan Registered Nurse Anesthetists (KRNAs), who are now providing care in regions of Kenya where anesthesia was previously absent or inadequate, and equipped KRNA educators with skills in clinical and didactic teaching, data collection, and simulation training.

Now the training tools developed in Kenya will be used in Ethiopia, which, despite being one of the largest countries in Africa, has very few anesthesia providers, Newton said.

The two-year education outcomes research and capacity building grant will begin in two regions of Northern Ethiopia — Amhara and Tigray.

Vanderbilt Anesthesiology will collaborate with Bahir Dar University in Amhara and Mekelle University in Tigray, two leading medical institutions in their regions. The program, which also has the support of the Ethiopia Ministry of Health and regional ministries of health, will eventually reach nearby hospitals and other regions in Ethiopia.

Kijabe Hospital will act as a training hub for educators from Ethiopia, providing the program with regional sustainability, Newton said.

“This was a long process to get to this point where we have a partnership with academics in the United States, corporate foundations, the government of Ethiopia, the program in Kijabe, Kenya, and academic institutions within a region of Africa. It is a collaboration between East and West and North and South within the continent.”

Warren Sandberg, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Anesthesiology, said he is excited about the expansion of the ImPACT project.

“VUMC has the global impulse throughout. Access to safe anesthesia can save countless lives. I am excited to see what ImPACT can do in Ethiopia by educating local providers.”

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