As providence would have it, shortly after arrangements were made to conduct spirometry training for TB Sequel at MRC Gambia, a request for training from Dr Sunkaru Touray Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist New Mexico School of Medicine (USA) on behalf of Kanifing Central Hospital was received. This tied in with the start of Dr Babatunde Awokola’s Non-communicable respiratory diseases and air pollution in sub-Saharan Africa project at the MRC. After connecting all parties, a new collaboration and shared resources enabled us to successfully host a second spirometry training event in Banjul.
A formal launch to the training initiative arranged by Sunkaru was held at the lovely Ocean Bay Hotel in Banjul. The training, jointly supported by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), was recognised and reported nationwide by 2 independent TV stations. The launch event was graced by the presence of the Honourable Gambian Minister of Health, Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, CEO Kanifing Central Hospital Mr Kebba Manneh, Chairperson of the Kanifing General Hospital Management Board and Registrar of the Gambia Medical and Dental Council, Dr Mohammadou Kabir Cham, training attendees and others. This first spirometry training initiative of its kind in the Gambian Public Health sector was declared open with good wishes and support from all involved.
Six attendees from Kanifing Hospital and five attendees from the MRC project took their learning responsibilities very seriously. The Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS) Foundational Spirometry Certificate of Competence Short Course held between 17 and 20 August was extremely well received. Every learner was fully engaged throughout the training and did their institutions proud. The training started on time, finished on time and learners who had committed to training over the weekend arrived on both the Saturday and Sunday, sacrificing family time to make the most of the opportunity.
Something special: Senior Professional Nurse Sr Monica Genekah (MRC), who attended spirometry training the previous week has been appointed as a Gambian PATS trainee facilitator. This course was an opportunity for the first of her (at least) three training events required to sign off as a PATS spirometry trainer. Congratulations Monica! We have identified a second upcoming spirometry trainer: Dr Baboucarr Sanyang – Congratulations! PATS has once again, together with their new partners, fulfilled their vision and mission to grow respiratory health and advocacy on the African continent.
Special thanks to Sunkaru and Tunde for working hard to make this training so successful together with MRC Dr Muyiwa and Sr Monica for loaning equipment for training. Grateful thanks also to the supporting institutions UNM and LSTM for their part in improving respiratory health in the Gambia. With people like you driving change, I am excited to see what will happen next and am so glad to have played a small role in this beautiful country.