Belgian doctors to train local counterparts in surgery

At least seven specialist doctors from Belgium arrived in Rwanda yesterday for a weeklong teaching mission in minimally invasive surgery at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).
The team of specialist doctors in a group photo. (Courtesy)
The team of specialist doctors in a group photo. (Courtesy)

At least seven specialist doctors from Belgium arrived in Rwanda yesterday for a weeklong teaching mission in minimally invasive surgery at the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK).

The team’s mission is part of the ongoing efforts by the Government to assist the promotion of minimally invasive surgery in local hospitals.

Minimally invasive procedures are widely preferred today as patients who undergo the type of surgery have quicker recovery times and less discomfort compared to conventional surgery.

According to Martin Nyundo, the medical director of CHUK, the team will be teaching and at the same time treating people, but that the major aim is to build capacity for Rwandan specialists.

He added that the purpose is not a number of patients who will be operated but transmission of knowledge and skills.

Speaking to The New Times from Belgium, Dr Jacob Souopgui, who is one of the scientists pushing for adoption of minimally invasive surgery in Rwanda, said that there is so much work going on, and this particular training will benefit more people than before.

“Our team will be training surgeons, theatre staff nurses as well as nurses. We have a cardiologist in the group for post operation follow-up together with an anaesthetist,” he said.

Earlier this year, Souopgui, who is the chair of Lab of Embryology and Biotechnology at Charleroi Campus in Belgium, led a team of specialised doctors from Belgium to perform a demonstration on the use of minimally invasive surgery in Kigali. The aim was to carry out a test of how the theatre was prepared, and about 23 patients were safely operated.

According to Christian Ngongang, the head of the team, this is a second medical-surgical workshop that is going to be conducted and that it will primarily involve minimally invasive endocrine surgery and general laparoscopic surgery.

“The objective is to lend a hand to our local colleagues. We want to help Africa to get access to good health procedures,” he noted, adding that this is becoming possible because of different partners, including Marchez Nord-Sud, a non-profit organisation supporting medical training in Africa, as well the governments of Belgium and Rwanda.

Patients will benefit

Nyundo said they expect to operate between 40 and 50 patients.

On the other hand, on the list of patients, Souopgui said that there are 30 serious cases programmed but this could increase as there are always emergencies in big hospitals like CHUK.

He said, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, they plan to bring another team of specialists in January to lay a strategic plan and design roadmap for training more surgeons in the country.

This is part of a five-year minimally invasive surgery project being implemented in Rwanda with the aim of training local surgeons to be able to perform the procedure.

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