Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Tanzania
THE LINK: IN AFRICA FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Once in a lifetime, a chance may come along to be involved in something amazing. That chance presented itself to Colin when he was invited to be part of a project to introduce laparoscopic surgery to Tanzania and across East Africa. Colin has written extensively about his experiences in Tanzania in his autobiographical novel, The Link – An Adventure in Africa from the Inside OutNow available from Amazon
> IT ALL STARTED IN HEXHAM...
The story starts ten years ago in Hexham, when a team from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust approached Colin with a challenging proposal – could he design an audio visual tele-mentoring link that would allow their surgeons to communicate, with surgical video and in real time, with their counterparts at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC). The link would have to be affordable, sustainable and work over the meagre Internet service available in the region at that time.
> WHY LAPAROSCOPIC SURGERY?
Laparoscopic or “keyhole” surgery delivers cheaper, more efficient, procedures, with shorter hospital stays and a greatly reduced risk of post-operative infection. In a country like Tanzania, where money is tight and patients, who may be the sole breadwinner or carer, struggle to be away from their family for long periods of time, the benefits it offers are huge.
> AN AMBITIOUS PLAN
KCMC had a team of surgeons desperate to develop their laparoscopic skills and improve the treatment they could offer patients. However, it was virtually impossible for the Tanzanian government to fund overseas training, and the occasional visits from foreign surgeons only went so far.
THIS PROJECT WAS SET TO CHANGE EVERYTHING
The ambitious plan to train and mentor African surgeons in minimally invasive techniques on live cases during surgery would mean the hospitals no longer had to rely on sporadic help from overseas volunteers but could take full ownership of the surgery they carried out, directly benefitting thousands of patients each year.
At first, the project seemed to present an insurmountable challenge - it would take software that didn’t yet exist, running on a bandwidth that may not available, set up in a hospital with as yet unknown technical resources, but “the link”, as it came to be known, could be done. Would be done. Next stop – Tanzania!
" THE LINK - AN ADVENTURE IN AFRICA FROM THE INSIDE OUT"
The story of the project is now available from Amazon
It not only tells the full story of the link, from conception to installation, but also creates an evocative picture of KCMC and life in Tanzania, where day-to-day existence can be cruel and challenging but the beauty of the people and their country always shines through. Meet the book’s characters through Colin’s eyes – the spice girl whose temper is as hot as her goods; the hospital patient who is not all that he seems; and Dr Ali – a man with plan.
A selection of images from the project can be seen at www.dobbyne.com.
Short film showing the project can be viewed on youtube:
The ongoing link project continues to garner international acclaim and has won two prestigious healthcare awards: