Innovative Canada-Ghana Partnership Provides Transformative Neurosurgery Skills

Korle-Bu neurosurgeon Patrick Banka demonstrates the use of telesimulation.

January marks the launch of a new University Health Network research study, led in partnership with Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.

This Canadian project, funded by Grand Challenges Canada and in partnership with the National Research Council (NRC) in Montreal, has been under development for several years.

The project involves the use of a virtual reality simulator (a model known as telesimulation) to train Ghanaian neurosurgeons remotely using the internet.

Using a series of webcams and computers, surgeons in Ghana will be trained in the surgical technique used to treat hydrocephalus, Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy (ETV), by expert neurosurgeons who will be teaching from Toronto Western Hospital in Ontario, Canada.

If successful, the team hopes their partnership can continue to grow by expanding the program to teach other techniques and surgical specialties, and to provide remote surgical mentoring in the operating room in Ghana.

“This project is an example of innovative Canadian programming facilitating the work of dedicated Ghanaians and Canadians to make scientific advancements and to improve lives.”- High Commissioner Christopher Thornley

This will be the first time telesimulation has been used for neurosurgical training. It is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate that remote training is feasible.

Introducing this to the health care training programme in Ghana will be hugely beneficial. Further, this project aims to support sustainable mentorship opportunities for neurosurgeons and to encourage students and residents in choosing neurosurgery as a specialty.

Furthermore, the mastery of the ETV procedure will improve the lives of patients suffering from hydrocephalus and avoid some of the complications associated with traditional treatment methods.

 “This is truly a milestone in effectively teaching neurosurgery skills through electronic means. To advance the skills of Ghanaian and West African neurosurgeons at home, saving enormous expenditures both in time, effort and costs of training abroad, is transformative. To know that Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is the first project partner is so very thrilling. It is hopeful that this project will be a catalyst for contemporary surgical mentoring which will enrich the medical community and ultimately improve the lives of patients afflicted with neurological disease.” - Marjorie Ratel, 2013 recipient of the Governor General of Canada Medal and the President of the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation Canada