By: 2 August 2012

The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) is taking part in a volunteering scheme announced by International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, to provide training in life-saving healthcare to medical workers in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Over four years, the Government’s Health Partnership Scheme will:
•    Train 13,000 overseas healthcare workers across many disciplines, including trauma care, mental health, anaesthesia and maternal and child health
•    Support 142 skilled British healthcare volunteers for six months or over
•    Enable 600 UK healthcare workers to volunteer overseas on short term placements
Manchester Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Kate Grady has developed the Safe Anaesthesia From Education (SAFE) obstetric anaesthesia training programme on behalf of the AAGBI and in collaboration with the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET). The SAFE obstetric anaesthesia course is aimed at non-physician anaesthetists and focuses on recognition and management of the leading causes of maternal and newborn death in resource-poor settings.
Anaesthetists from across Britain will be supported to teach and offer practical assistance to their counterparts throughout Uganda, including those working in remote rural hospitals.
Dr Iain Wilson, President of the AAGBI said:
“The programme is part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to save the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborn babies by 2015.
Funding from the Health Partnership Scheme means we are able to roll out SAFE courses to reach all anaesthesia providers in Uganda this year and to work towards reducing complications in childbirth. Future courses are planned in Liberia, Bangladesh, Rwanda and Tanzania”.
The Health Partnership Scheme also benefits volunteers as they return to the NHS with increased knowledge, improved leadership skills and an enhanced ability to deal with complex situations under pressure.
Speaking at the Royal College of Midwives to mark International Day of the Midwife, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:
“British nurses, midwives and medical teams are among the best in the world. The Health Partnership Scheme allows us to harness their expertise to help give developing countries the skills needed to improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people.”
It is an international scandal that one thousand women die every day in pregnancy or childbirth and tackling the tragic scale of maternal and child deaths is a key priority for the British Government.”
The scheme will support up to 50 international partnerships between the NHS and UK institutions and developing countries’ health systems.
Volunteers can be midwives, nurses, doctors or health technicians and long term volunteers from the NHS will have their pension contributions guaranteed.
Partnerships will be encouraged to support the use of innovations in technology, such as live internet link-ups and the use of mobile phones for emergency referrals and operations.