The emergency medicine team trains health professionals in West Africa

The emergency medicine team trains health professionals in West Africa
The emergency medicine team trains health professionals in West Africa

(SACRAMENTO)

A team from the UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine is training providers in The Gambia to provide health care using portable ultrasound equipment.

The crucial initiative aims to improve the diagnostic capabilities of medical professionals in The Gambia and improve access to care. The training program focuses on the diagnosis of heart and lung diseases.

A group of people standing around a patient lying on a hospital bed looking at his stomach on an ultrasound screen.
Christine McBeth and her team provided hands-on simulations with handheld ultrasound probes.

The UC Davis team is training providers to use Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS), a convenient diagnostic tool that is increasingly being used in hard-to-reach communities because of its portability.

POCUS can assess patients wherever they are. It is a vital tool in remote settings as it allows the diagnosis and treatment of critically ill patients without having to be in a clinic or hospital.

«The Gambia is an ideal environment for portable ultrasound machines to make a real difference in patient care and save lives,» said Christine McBeth, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UC Davis Health and course director of the training program. «These reliable tools provide real-time information about how best to treat patients and allow us to monitor the patient’s response to their treatment.»

On their recent trip to The Gambia, Macbeth and her team provided a week of classroom training with interactive team learning activities. The training was funded by the Department of Emergency Medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Sustainable Cardiovascular Health Alliance for Equitable Development (SCHEDA) and the Medical Research Council Division. SCHEDA donated four handheld ultrasound probes along with an iPad.

The following week, the UC Davis group led local providers in hands-on simulations with real-life patient scenarios.

«The goal of the training program was to teach these local health professionals how to use the POCUS tools so they can provide care to acutely ill respiratory and cardiac patients after we leave,» McBeth added.

Christine Macbeth

The goal of the training program was to teach these local health professionals how to use the POCUS tools so that they can provide care to acutely ill respiratory and cardiac patients after we leave.” Christine Macbeth

Addressing health disparities in The Gambia

The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in continental Africa, sharing its borders entirely with Senegal, except for its picturesque coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the west.

Although the West African nation has made significant strides in healthcare access and delivery, it still struggles with shortages and uneven distribution of its healthcare workforce. A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the number of skilled health workers in the country is a modest 1.33 per 1,000 people, which is less than the WHO benchmark.

In addition, health facilities in the country are concentrated in urban regions, creating disparities between urban and rural communities.

«We hope this training will improve the capacity of health care providers to provide accurate and timely medical interventions to patients in these rural and underserved communities,» McBeth explained. «This is a great starting point and we will continue with ongoing lectures, quality assurance and follow-up training and education to ensure it is used in the best possible way, with patient safety always at the forefront.»

Committed to improving the well-being of all

The visit of the multidisciplinary team to The Gambia [I think we can now insert the date here] was aligned with UC Davis and UC Davis Health’s global health efforts. Known as One Health, the interdisciplinary approach recognizes the interconnectedness of humans, animals and the environment and aims to identify and address the root causes of ill health to improve the well-being of all.

«Our physicians, staff and students can grow through trips like this, gaining hands-on experience that will strengthen medical knowledge, learn about the many social determinants of health, and gain experience in cultural competency,» explained Shakira Bandolin, Director of Global Health at UC Davis Health. «By gaining experience with diverse populations around the world—with diverse cultures and belief systems—global health rotations instill an appreciation for the diversity and importance of practicing among underserved and multicultural populations.»

UC Davis Health recently established a new Center for Global Health. The Center was created to improve collaboration, organization, financial and administrative support for all health care specialties and providers to improve health and equity for all patients worldwide. Through ongoing collaboration with local and international partners, the center creates opportunities for students, residents, fellows, and faculty to train to be conscientious health care practitioners. The center also allows UC Davis Health providers to engage in clinical, educational and research endeavors with their global partners.

«We understand that a patient’s health is affected by many factors, including their environment, access to health care, socioeconomic status and other complex social determinants of health,» said Nathan Cooperman, associate dean for global health at the UC Davis School of Medicine. “We are committed to high-quality care for all patients, especially the most vulnerable in our communities and abroad. We seek to collaborate in clinical care, education, research and infrastructure development with our global partners. This commitment raises the bar for care for our patients throughout our healthcare system and around the world.”

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