RCSEd had previously worked with surgeons in Myanmar through provision and accreditation of surgical examinations. Political difficulties meant that the examinations stopped in 2006. Since then, small numbers of surgeons in training in Myanmar continued to access RCSEd training opportunities and examinations by travelling to other locations. Following the recent political changes in Myanmar, RCSEd was approached by senior surgeons in Myanmar who identified an opportunity for the College to begin working there again. There was an opportunity for the College to re-assess the surgical needs in Myanmar beyond simply the provision of surgical examinations. The College could also facilitate inter-country visits, in order to help strengthen the training of surgical staff and enhance the capacity of the health system within the country and, through the International Medical Graduate Sponsorship Scheme run by the College, look to provide opportunities for surgeons in training in Myanmar to visit the UK. These opportunities would be of benefit to trainers, consultants and trainee surgeons alike and would provide the building blocks for in country sustainability of these activities.
The President and Honorary Secretary of the College were invited to visit Myanmar in August 2012, in order to explore the viability of developing a sustainable RCSEd presence in the country. During this visit they met with representatives from the University of Medicine, New Yangon General Hospital, the Myanmar Surgical Society and with the Minister for Health. The responses from these meetings were uniformly positive and there was a specific request from the Health Minister that RCSEd continued discussions with a view to signing an agreement concerning the provision of training to the country. This endorsement at a government level for the creation of such a partnership has been the catalyst for the College renewing efforts in respect of its activities in Myanmar and, therefore, in our participation in the Health Partnership Scheme.
The Health Partnership between the RCSEd and Myanmar aims to contribute to improvements in health care management throughout all stages of life. The partnership will work to improve the skills, capability and capacity of local surgeons. Our initial discussions have identified the need for partnership working in the areas of Patient Safety, Infection Control, Post-Operative Care, Advanced Surgical Skills and Non-technical Skills for surgeons. All of these areas will have positive impacts on a range of health outcomes.
We envisage that the Health Partnership project will enable our partners in Myanmar to progress towards a sustainable programme of training and assessment, thereby strengthening surgical training capacity with local expertise, with continued support and input from the College where requested.
The longer term goal is to move towards a sustainable situation where RCSEd had trained local surgeons who would be able to conduct the training roles themselves. RCSEd would then move to performing a quality assurance function, ensuring that courses and examinations were run to the standards expected of the College’s accredited exams and training. In turn, there is much the College can learn from our project partners and we hope that further opportunities for partnership working will arise in Myanmar.
Our Immediate Past President visited Myanmar again in March 2013. The aim of his visit was to prepare the groundwork for a needs assessment that would form the basis of a MoU between the RCSEd and partners in Myanmar. We now intend to formulate the needs analysis and progress our project towards the ultimate aim of a MoU leading towards a sustainable system of training and assessment led by our local project partners.
RCSEd launched its International School of Surgery (ISS) in March 2013. The ISS brings together and strengthens the College’s wide range of international activities, events, courses and examinations. Our project with Myanmar and our other international activities are managed and co-ordinated through the ISS. Partnership working is key for the College’s international work, as a means for the RCSEd to reach out to its current and future international membership, but also to strengthen our international partnerships by providing a dedicated resource through which to channel and manage the College’s efforts.
You can find out more about the ISS through: www.iss.rcsed.ac.uk
Minister of Health - Professor Pe Thet Khin
Rector or the University of Medicine 1, Yangon - Professor Than Cho.
President, Myanmar Surgical Society and Professor of Surgery, University of Medicine 1 (Yangon), New Yangon General Hospital – Professor Htun Oo
Vice President Myanmar Surgical Society and Professor of Surgery , University of Medicine Mandalay, Mandalay General Hospital – Professor Shein Myint