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TELEMENTORING


centre of excellence for the whole of East Africa, with surgeons visiting from neighbouring countries, as well as other parts of Tanzania. It is impossible to overestimate the benefits that all this has brought to the patients treated at KCMC, and indeed across the whole of East Africa. Less than 24 hours after Angela’s surgery, we attended a presentation at the KCMC lecture theatre where she was able to walk up onto the stage and join Dr Kondo. For the general medical team in KCMC to witness a cholecystectomy patient up on her feet less than a day after surgery was as miraculous as the raising of Lazarus. She told the audience she was fine, and had already been discharged, ready to return home as soon as she left the lecture theatre. The audience rose to its feet to applaud her.


Although the link project has garnered international acclaim and awards, I know I speak for the whole team when I say it was for the Angelas and Joshuas of East Africa that we did this. Better healthcare is vital for the economic success of Tanzania,


and an improved quality of life for its people. To have been able to play a part in helping to make this happen has been incredibly humbling, and without doubt one of the greatest achievements of my life.


Colin Dobbyne has recently written a book about his experiences.


An adventure in Africa I recently wrote a book about the link project – The Link: An Adventure in Africa from the Inside Out, because I wanted to take the story beyond the surgery, to talk about the people and the country that we all came to respect and love during our time there. Despite living in often desperate circumstances, everyone we worked with supported our project and did everything they could to help us. We met many people who remain friends to this day, who, with pride and dignity, shared with us a side to Tanzania that is inaccessible to the average tourist. A tour guide with a thousand tales to tell, a patient who is not all that he seems, and a doctor with a plan to bottle the sun, were just some of the characters we met along the way. My career has been built


around improving patient care


and outcomes. I may deal with cables and connections and screwdrivers, but for me it’s all about the person on the operating table.


Some people said the link could not, or perhaps even should not, be done. Unbelievably, one consultant surgeon told me it was “quite fanciful to think that such advanced techniques of surgery could be imparted or entrusted to the dubiously trained staff in Africa with the basic services available.” He added: “I suspect you will do more harm than good.” The project at KCMC shows what can


be achieved when the rule book is thrown out of the window; with no received wisdom or standard processes holding you back, and an absolute enthusiasm to embrace innovation, new products and solutions flourish and advance what can be achieved. I want to bring this growth mindset to the rich countries, too – if we are eager to adapt new techniques and gather metrics to support or disprove surgical decisions, we can improve patient outcomes. Patients don’t need to die from preventable medical errors if we seize the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. For me, the link was the start – what comes next will be even more astonishing, and I am incredibly excited to be part of it.


IFHE


IFHEDigest Providing insights into the vast field of healthcare engineering and facility management IFHE DIGEST 2020 97


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