UK team wins most innovative outreach project award at Africa Healthcare 2018

Published: 28-Mar-2018

The team developed keyhole surgery via a visual link that was broadcasted in real-time

Colin Dobbyne of Big Blue Solutions Ltd and the teams from Hexham General Hospital and the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) have received a prestigious award for Most Innovative Outreach Project at the recent Africa Healthcare Week 2018 Awards. The award was given in recognition of the work done by the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to train surgeons in Tanzania in laparoscopic surgery via a televisual link developed and set up by Colin Dobbyne.

Colin says of his experience in Tanzania: “Imagine a people shoring up a primitive healthcare service, patients waiting days to be seen, no ambulances, friends and neighbours collecting the injured and dead from road traffic accidents in their trucks; many operative procedures, standard in the west, being simply unavailable. The Northumbria Healthcare Trust has worked tirelessly with A&E, the burns unit, obstetrics, eye clinics, etc for nearly 20 years. We went there to specifically help them develop keyhole surgery, and the benefits are now well documented. My wobbly video link to Newcastle provided the reassuring hand on Dr Kondo’s shoulder until he was self-sufficient, and now the service is in full flight.”

The Path from Hexham to Kilimanjaro

Implementing the visual link that would allow the telementoring to take place was a massive technical challenge. To allow the operation to be broadcast in real time from Tanzania to Hexham, Colin had to develop a system that would work with the extremely limited bandwidth and unstable IT infrastructure available in the area at that time. He succeeded, despite having very limited resources. At the allotted hour, the BBC captured the transmission as it hopped across the Masai Steps via overland cable from town to town until it reached Dar es Salem, where it was bounced off a satellite 22,000 miles high to Israel, then picked up by a fibre cable running under the entire length of the Mediterranean, up the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal, into the English Channel and North Sea, and finally along the Thames Estuary to London.

Africa Healthcare Week 2018

Due to significant economic and population growth, the African healthcare market is expected to experience unprecedented levels of growth. The Africa Healthcare Summit brings hundreds of distributors, healthcare providers and government officials together from across Africa to discuss business and investment opportunities and meet world-leading technology providers.

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