Rwanda Hub Hosts Conference on Enhancing Surgical Care through Community Engagement

On the 18th of May 2024, the NIHR GSU Rwanda Hub, supported by the Rwanda Ministry of Health, Rwanda Surgical Society (RSS), Operation Smile, Medical Military Insurance Rwanda, Pyramid Pharma, Ejo Heza Surgical Center, and Lifebox, held a pivotal Scientific Conference at Lemigo Hotel, Kigali. This event marked the culmination of a week-long surgical outreach program and was centred around the theme: “Community Engagement and Involvement: A Walk Towards Sustainable Surgical Ecosystem.”

The conference opened with an address by Professor Faustin Ntirenganya, the Hub Director, who provided an overview of the surgical outreach activities conducted in honour of Kwibuka 30, commemorating the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. This initiative was a significant community engagement effort by the RSS to bridge the gaps in surgical care across Rwanda. He then introduced Dr. Corneille Ntihabose, the Head of Clinical and Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health, who officially inaugurated the conference.

Dr Ntihabose commended the RSS for their remarkable efforts and emphasised the critical need for enhanced surgical care in Rwanda. He outlined the Ministry's recent reforms, which included the expansion of public hospitals with surgical theatres, procurement of advanced medical equipment, and the improvement of surgical procedures' valuation by various medical insurance schemes. He reaffirmed the Ministry's commitment to ongoing collaboration with the RSS to facilitate nationwide surgical outreach initiatives.

Mr. Emmanuel Munyaneza, the National Coordinator for Community Engagement and Involvement (CEI), emphasised the crucial role of community involvement in healthcare initiatives. He explained that CEI ensures patients and the broader community are active participants in healthcare research, not just data sources. Munyaneza highlighted successful CEI projects, including Project REACH (REsources for surgical cAre training of Community Health workers), which trains community health workers on post-surgical care and surgical site monitoring using locally developed teaching materials. He introduced the Rwanda National CEI steering committee, composed of selected community members from various GSU Rwanda research sites. This committee oversees and advises the research team on best practices for engaging with the community in their research.

A series of panel discussions followed, focusing on collaboration with professional bodies. Dr Ntihabose noted the positive impact of surgical outreaches on reducing surgical case backlogs but stressed the need for better organisation. Prof. Ntirenganya emphasised the empowerment of professional bodies and the establishment of a coordination system for efficient collaboration. Mrs. Viviane Umutesi- a community member and co-chair of the National CEI steering committee, underscored the importance of a unified understanding among stakeholders and the decentralisation of surgical care to the grassroots.

Mr Munyaneza concluded the discussions by highlighting the distinctions between participation, engagement, and involvement, stressing the need for genuine involvement in surgical decision-making processes. "Community members should always be present at the table where decisions are being made," he insisted.


GSU-Pulmonary Score - a new model published in The Lancet Digital Health

A new model has been published in The Lancet Digital Health: A prognostic model for use before elective surgery to estimate the risk of postoperative pulmonary complications (GSU-Pulmonary Score): a development and validation study in three international cohorts

The publication can be read here: The Lancet Digital Health, Volume 6, Issue 7, 2024,

The GSU-Pulmonary Score is a novel prognostic risk score that aims to estimate the risk of postoperative pulmonary complications in adults undergoing elective surgery, based on ten preoperative variables routinely accessible in preoperative settings. It was developed as a collaboration between the NIHR Global Surgery Unit, STARSurg Collaboration and HDRUK, the UK's foremost health data science research network.

The model was derived from a prospective international dataset of 86 231 patients from the SURG-Week study, and discrimination and calibration were explored in two external prospective datasets of 37 281 patients in total (STARSurg: RECON, and CovidSurg-Cancer). It can now be implemented in individual risk assessment for patient prioritisation and resource management during the ongoing COVID-19 recovery period. It will support front-line clinicians and policy makers to safely scale capacity for elective surgery to address growing waiting lists around the world.

The live model is available at: https://surgicalrisk.app/

We would like to thanks all collaborators involved in this project, and we hope this tool is useful to you in the future!


Vibrant May in Veracruz: Mexico Hub Community Engagement Highlights

The NIHR Global Surgery Unit Mexico Hub reached out to communities by holding three engagement events in May 2024.

On the 14th of the month, the Hub visited Grupo Reto, a support group for women battling breast and cervical cancer. There, they tackled the crucial topic of breast cancer and nutrition. The informative session explored how a balanced diet can bolster the immune system, enhance the quality of life for patients, and even mitigate side effects from treatment. The Hub debunked common myths surrounding cancer and nutrition, providing evidence-based information.

Shifting focus on the 15th, the Hub delivered a talk at Tec Milenio University, addressing a crucial public health issue – the impact of e-cigarettes on health. Engaging with 30 students aged 17-18, the Hub discussed the risks associated with these devices. Through open dialogue, they explored the detrimental effects of e-cigarettes on the lungs, heart, and other vital organs.  To emphasise the urgency, they conducted a live experiment – performing electrocardiograms on 10 professors before and after using e-cigarettes. The revealing results were a stark reminder of the immediate impact on the cardiovascular system. The interactive session fostered an open discussion environment, with students actively questioning and engaging with the presented information. 

Finally, on the 17th, the Hub celebrated Mother's Day at Lomas Residencial- a housing development in Veracruz. Here, they empowered 20 women with vital knowledge about breast cancer awareness. The session highlighted the importance of early detection and noting early warning signs of the condition. Recommended screening tests like mammograms and ultrasounds were also discussed.

A crucial aspect of the session involved teaching participants how to perform self-examinations. The Hub ensured attendees felt confident conducting these examinations at home through detailed instructions and demonstrations. The interactive format allowed for questions and clarifications, promoting understanding and accessibility of the information.


GSU Mexico Shares Expertise, Wins Hearts at Mexican Childhood Cancer Association

Staff from the GSU Mexico Hub recently visited the Mexican Childhood Cancer Association (AMANC) in Veracruz on 27 March 2024 to deliver a wound care workshop for families battling childhood cancer.

The session, aimed at 15 paediatric patients and their parents plus 5 members of staff, focused on identifying common causes of household wounds.  This was especially important as many of the attendees were children with cancer who face wound care challenges daily.

Following the theoretical discussion, the workshop transitioned into a practical demonstration with attendees learning proper wound treatment techniques.  The event's highlight was a raffle for five first-aid kits, with the young people actively participating and demonstrating their understanding of wound care practices.

The session concluded with information on the care of chemotherapy catheters to recognise warning signs for seeking immediate medical attention.  The rapt attention from both children and parents underscored the importance of such knowledge for navigating the daily realities of childhood cancer. It was touching to see everyone paying attention to these important aspects, aware of the reality that children and parents of children with cancer face.

The success of the event has led to an invitation for the GSU Mexico Hub to return for future sessions to focus on topics like diabetes and hypertension. It is envisioned that these sessions will offer valuable health information to paediatric cancer parents who are selflessly dedicated to their children's well-being, often at the expense of their own health.


Mexico Hub Community Event Educates on Wound Care

In a bid to empower patients, the GSU Mexico Hub held a community engagement event at the DIF Ruiz Cortines Community Centre, Veracruz on wound care and infection prevention on 22nd February. Dr. Carolina, a dedicated research physician, spearheaded the informative session aimed primarily at the elderly demographic within the community.

The event, attended by 70 people, commenced with an insightful inquiry into the common remedies employed by attendees for wound healing at home. Many disclosed the use of potentially harmful substances like laundry detergent, eggs, and even urine. Such practices, though prevalent, were underscored as detrimental to skin health.

Dr Carolina delved into essential aspects of wound management, highlighting crucial warning signs indicative of infection. Through a meticulous step-by-step demonstration, attendees were equipped with practical skills for effective wound care.

As part of the interactive segment, eight wound care kits were raffled off to attendees. The session culminated in a vibrant Q&A segment, fostering an open dialogue on wound management strategies. Participants also expressed a desire for future sessions covering topics such as diabetes management and pressure ulcer care. Such feedback underscores the pressing need to further educate this demographic on preventive healthcare measures.