Spotlight on AMPATH Surgery

Surgery is an essential part of healthcare, yet many global health initiatives often overlook this aspect of healthcare. Five billion people lack access to basic surgical care around the world. AMPATH’s surgery program is responding to this challenge and expanding its impact after more than a decade in development.

For four years now, a full-time Indiana University faculty surgeon has worked at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). Dr. Connie Keung, an IU faculty member who trained at Columbia University, now leads the program on the ground with 8 general surgery residents rotating through each year. She started in August 2016 after Dr. Claire Burgardt laid the groundwork for the first three years (2013 to 2016). 

Dr. Keung’s work is divided between surgical education and specific projects to improve delivery of surgical care.  One change is beginning morning reports to improve the staff communication and quality of care provided to patients. Dr. Keung has also been working closely with the Surgical Society of Kenya and the Kenyan Red Cross to bring the Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) course to Moi/MTRH.  ATLS is the gold standard for teaching comprehensive trauma care, and has never been held before in Eldoret. In addition to trauma education, AMPATH Surgery recently received a grant to implement a trauma registry in Western Kenya. 

The role of surgery in treating cancer has also expanded with the opening of Chandaria Cancer and Chronic Disease Center. Many cancer patients arrive at care centers with late and often metastatic tumors, and often only palliative care and surgery can be offered. Efforts are underway to create a validated tool for colorectal screening of patients to improve early diagnosis and thus survival. AMPATH Surgery is also working with Dr. Chite Asirwa (oncology) to improve breast screening and care. AMPATH plans to hold breast surgery camps with local surgeons throughout Western Kenya focusing on surgical oncological principles and techniques. 

Looking forward, the surgery program is working to increase the bilateral exchange between North American consortium members and Moi University/MTRH. Surgical residents from both Indiana University and Columbia University are now doing elective rotations at Moi/MTRH. Discussions to plan and host Kenyan residents at different North American host institutions are ongoing. This summer, a new Global Surgery Fellowship will launch which includes coursework to complete an MPH and a year on the ground in Kenya conducting global surgery research.