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      Training surgeons in advanced trauma management

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      Trauma is the leading cause of death in West Africa. Even as roads and transportation have increased the likelihood of patients reaching hospital, the lack of advanced surgical skills among health providers has continued to make saving lives difficult.

      In Ghana, the Medical and Surgical Skills Institute (MSSI) was established in 2005 to provide practical, clinical and academic training for medical students as a way to increase the capacity of health care workers in basic and advanced surgical skills. MSSI is an initiative of The West African College of Surgeons, Johnson & Johnson and others such as International Aid Ghana, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, International Aid Michigan, American College of Surgeons and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons.

      Students travel from throughout West Africa to well-equipped facilities at Korle Bu. There, dedicated faculty from around the world staff the first Surgical Training Center outside of the U.S. to provide Surgical Training in Advanced Trauma Operative Management (ATOM). The ATOM course is a proven method of increasing surgical competence and confidence in treating traumatic injuries such as those involving penetration of the chest or abdomen. Participants in the course include senior surgical residents, trauma fellows, military surgeons and fully trained general surgeons who are not frequently called upon to treat such traumatic injuries.

      “ATOM really benefitted me a lot in terms of handling trauma,” says Sunny D. Mante, M.D., Department of Urology, 37 Military Hospital, Accra. “The week after my training, a patient with a gunshot wound to the abdomen was rushed to our emergency room. Because of the training I’d received at ATOM,

      I was more confident and bold in taking action to address his injuries.”

      Dr. Mante adds that now all residents of 37 Military Hospital take the ATOM training as part of their preparation for final surgical exams, resulting in more confident handling of trauma cases.

      As of December 2012, 111 surgeons have been certified in the ATOM courses and another 3,170 surgical and medical personnel have received valuable life-changing training at the institute.

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