Medilink – Developing Local Talent
Article published in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh newsletter, on 24 July 2023.
Now more than ever, many countries recognise the need to grow and develop their national capabilities in a variety of fields towards an international standard. This is often particularly relevant in the area of the delivery of healthcare. Developing well trained doctors, medics, and nurses from local resources offers great benefit to industries operating in countries where traditionally there has been an overreliance on expatriates and foreign expertise. The reasons behind the use of non-local healthcare staff as the typical model are varied. In some instances, it is difficult for organisations to find and select qualified local medical staff, due to challenges such as language proficiency, or the level of basic and healthcare education, which can be below internationally recognised standards. In other cases, there are no governing bodies to certify locals, which results in a lack of suitable care for international business operations. As such, these companies have chosen to turn to expatriate/international sources for healthcare staffing instead of focusing on building the capacity of local resources.
Today, many countries are actively working to change this norm. This includes the nationalisation of job roles, requiring that all business operations within a country acquire local staff and thus build local capacity. Their goal is to build a sustainable model, with staff who are fully trained to internationally recognised best practice standards, who then in turn can continue to propagate their knowledge on to successive cohorts of participants. Not only will this benefit the initial ‘business’ user of the local staff, but will help build capacity in the community at large.
Bringing Best Practice to Africa
With these challenges in mind, Medilink International Ltd (Medilink) has developed training programmes in various countries such as Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, and Mozambique, to help grow local capacity. Our focus in these countries is to select local medical staff to undergo intensive training, using the best practice insights gained from different healthcare systems and healthcare contexts to build and develop the capabilities required to work in remote, rural, and humanitarian settings. In this way, we seek to bring global best practice standards to remote locations throughout Africa.
A great working example of building local capacity is with our training programme for medics in Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique, where following a series of interviews, suitably qualified participants are selected to undergo a 5-year training programme. This programme consists of different study modules, including: private/public hospital placements, onshore/offshore oil and gas site placements, and other development programmes, in line with the demands of the industry they are working within.
Most importantly, these study modules offer intensive and in-depth training, with an emphasis on mentorship. This allows medics to gain on-the ground experience, build their knowledge base, and grow their critical skills in the industry settings and scenarios that are key to their performance in the field.
Another key example is the training of local doctors and nurses in pre-hospital trauma and advanced life support skills, up to known global best practice standards, such as The American Heart Association® (AHA®)’s ACLS, and National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians® (NAEMT®)’ PHTLS. Our goal is always to “train the trainer” and build a faculty of instructors locally who can continue such development. We work towards a gradual build up of capacity, with a number of sessions over a period of time, building up knowledge and expertise. And once fully trained, these participants can then act as instructors to carry on with the capacity building.
Underlying all our training programmes is ‘contextualisation’. With the knowledge that the local medical staff return to a hospital environment where equipment, drugs, and consumables may be lacking, we ensure that we adapt their training according to the resources available in the places in which they practice. In this way, we can successfully grow and develop a cadre of medical professionals who reflect the best blend of expertise, where they possess global best practices in medical care, but which at the same time is tailored to help them optimally respond to the requirements of their local environment.
The feedback we have received from those we have trained has been very enthusiastic and recognises the important role we are playing in developing healthcare resources. For instance, feedback from our stakeholders have noted that “all lessons are well understood because of the real cases, based on real facts, which is good to improve the critical analysis for us.” This has led to them implementing systematic approaches to trauma protocols and procedures that follow international guidelines which were non-existent before.
Growing Local Talent
The need to focus on nurturing and building the pool of local talent in the developing nations of Africa are central to furthering the level and depth of healthcare resources in these countries. We all have a core mission with our client partner to operate with a sustainable approach that leverages on developing and building local workforce capacity. The key focus is to emphasise the importance of harnessing local talent, and training medical services skills in the countries in which we work, creating efficient, on-the-ground teams of fully qualified, competent and specialist personnel in the healthcare field.
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