Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI/COSECSA collaboration programme

Developing surgical skills in Sub-Saharan Africa

Supported by Irish Aid


The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) established a Collaboration Programme in 2007. The aim of the programme is to increase the provision of quality, essential surgical and emergency care in the COSECSA region, particularly at district level.

The programme is supported by Irish Aid (the Government of Ireland's Development Agency) and RCSI which provides for staff and resources including curricula, education tools, skills training, examination, accreditation and quality assurance processes.

The surgical care crisis in Africa

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (2015) estimates that 93% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not currently have access to timely and effective surgical care*. Current estimates suggest that 6.5% of the global disease burden is due to conditions amenable by surgery. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest ratio of surgical Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), a measure of the overall disease burden, and the highest rate of obstetrical complications in the world. Africa has approximately 25% of the burden of the world's diseases but only 1.3% of the world health workforce.

Until recently, surgery has not been considered as part of a health strategy in low-income countries because it has been considered to be unaffordable. This has now changed: in May 2015, governments across the world adopted the first World Health Assembly resolution on Surgical Care and Anaesthesia and in doing so, recognised health as an integral part of primary healthcare, a preventive strategy and a cost effective response to numerous health challenges in resource-poor settings.

* The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (2015) Global surgery 2030: evidence and solutions for achieving health, welfare and economic development p 8, 10, 22

The College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA)

OSECSA is the second largest surgical training institution in Sub-Saharan Africa.

COSECSA is a professional body that fosters postgraduate education in surgery and provides surgical training throughout East, Central and Southern Africa. COSECSA was formed in 1999 to advance training, examinations standards, research and practice in surgical care by increasing the number of appropriately trained, well qualified surgeons and surgically trained general medical officers. It is an independent body that provides standardised surgical training in ten countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


The RCSI/COSECSA collaboration programme

In 2007, RCSI, COSECSA initiated a partnership programme designed to advance COSECSA's mandate and improve its current operating capacity. A pilot phase was successfully completed in 2007 and long term programme implementation commenced in 2008.

Contact us

Mr Eric O'Flynn, Programme Director: +353 (0) 85 117 8005,

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