Train the Trainers

Building training faculty for Eastern Central and Southern Africa: COECSA-RCOphth ‘train the trainers’ courses  (TTT-NET)

As well as LINKS between eye departments, there is a LINK between the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and the College of Ophthalmology of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COECSA). This college-college LINK is helping the relatively new college in Africa to become fully-functioning – overseeing training and examinations in the region, setting quality standards, developing guidelines and protocols etc – all aimed at improving the quality of patient care. There is a desperate shortage of ophthalmologists across sub-Saharan Africa and a huge need for more doctors to choose ophthalmology as their specialty and undertake training. Ultimately we hope that by improving training, more people will be attracted to the profession.

RCOphth and COECSA are collaborating to roll out a Trainer of Trainers programme to improve training of ophthalmologists across six African Commonwealth countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda) and three non-Commonwealth countries (Ethiopia, Burundi, South Sudan). The training is cascaded through the RCOphth and COECSA faculty to facilitators, trainers and examiners and thence to trainees and healthcare workers in each unit, who will be trained to effectively pass on knowledge and skills.

As part of this partnership, members of the RCOphth have led a series of ‘train the trainers’ courses for ophthalmologists in training roles in sub-Saharan Africa, to improve the quality and effectiveness of training. Surveys carried out six months after training show the extent to which the techniques and skills are being implemented. They show that in 2013-2015 the COECSA-RCOphth LINK made great strides in developing the skills of ophthalmologists in the region in teaching and training their residents (trainees) and the other eye care staff (eg nurses, OCOs) that they train.

The faculty and facilitators represent 6 out of the 9 COECSA countries. Already, the numbers of patients treated by those trained and those that they in turn are training has been calculated at approaching one million per year, as reported in this abstract. The RCOphth ‘train the trainers’ course is recognised as outstanding and the lead RCOphth TTT trainer/ Chair of the RCOphth TTT Committee, Melanie Corbett, has been involved since the start in delivering the courses for the COECSA ophthalmologists.

One course (up to 18 delgates) will take place each year from 2017-2019 so that by 2020 the region is running its own train the trainer courses. Under Melanie’s lead the RCOphth has developed a detailed plan for these courses so that national teams of faculty and facilitators are built within each country (one to two faculty and one facilitator per country by 2019 will be trained within the 6 COECSA countries). Once this critical mass has been reached, they will set up and deliver courses in their own countries with the help of the COECSA TTT lead.  Training is through a mixture of pre-learning and face-to-face. In the pre-learning, delegates study pre-recorded lectures to enable them to understand the tools to be used and how to apply them. The RCOphth is developing all the TTT material as online e-learning, which will be available in 2017. This includes the pre-learning and the follow up for the COECSA delegates. The face-to-face training is an intensive, participatory three-day course.

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