Scots doctors publish critical care guide in Africa

18-month-old boy Satrin Osinya recovered after receiving treatment in Nairobi. Picture: AFP/Getty
18-month-old boy Satrin Osinya recovered after receiving treatment in Nairobi. Picture: AFP/Getty
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SCOTTISH doctors are shaping emergency care on a global scale with the publication of a handbook on care for critically ill patients that is being used in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Consultant general surgeon Fanus Dreyer and David Ball, a recently retired consultant anaesthetist, both from Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, have created the Critical Care Handbook For Global Surgery to help with surgical education in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries.

The online guide has already been downloaded in 40 countries and there have been requests for translations into French and Spanish so it can be used in Latin America and West Africa.

Dreyer said: “This handbook is for those who work ‘at the coal face’ of emergency surgical care, often junior doctors and non-physician clinicians, who need to recognise critical illness early when they see patients.”

Dreyer and his co-editor, Ball, drew on their own extensive experience of working in Africa for the guide, as well as training physicians in clinical care back in the UK.

The book aims to dispel the myth that critical care can only take place in intensive treatment units and required complex skills, showing instead that practices can be adapted to meet local needs.

The authors hope it will help doctors in developing countries to use simple critical care techniques to tackle high maternal mortality rates and the rise of non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Along with Ball, Dreyer sought contributions from doctors all over the world, including Canada, Ethiopia and Malawi. They were praised for their efforts by public health minister Maureen Watt.

She said: “This resource will help medics across the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income regions.

“It’s brilliant that doctors from Scotland, and other countries are working collaboratively to lend their expertise to help critically ill patients in less advantaged countries.

“We have always been an outward-looking nation, embracing the world beyond our borders, and an important aspect of Scotland’s global contribution is sharing our knowledge, skills and technical expertise.”

The team behind the handbook has delivered 12 critical care courses in East and Central Africa for more than 200 participants, and trained more than 20 tutors who are now able to teach the course themselves.

Jeff Ace, chief executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “It is incredibly impressive that Fanus and David have produced such a comprehensive guide to critical care while also excelling in their day jobs.

“They should be proud that they have enabled NHS Dumfries and Galloway to make a contribution to improvements in care on a global scale.”