Our second mission for Palestine: Empowering medical heroes

In the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, tens of thousands have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands are now displaced. Hundreds of casualties have been reported in the West Bank. Our commitment to supporting affected communities continues and we will do all we can until we reach doctors on the ground.  

Despite recent escalation, Palestine has been engulfed by conflict for decades. Recognising a need for upskilled doctors, we first delivered a Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) course in Ramallah in March 2017 and another in 2022 in collaboration with Juzoor. We also taught Palestinian surgeons on our latest UK Train the Trainers course, giving them the skills needed to teach their own peers. 

“I love Ramallah. But we don’t have control of our borders,” shared Dr Salwa Najjab, Co-Founder and Chairwoman at Juzoor in 2022. “We are living in a big prison. Our people should be exposed to the world. We are very happy and thankful to the David Nott Foundation, to come and see what we are doing, to understand our situation and see it in their eyes.”  

Following the resounding success of our Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST)-UK course for doctors heading to Palestine, we once again joined forces with Palmed to train another group who intend to offer their skills on the frontline.  

At Bolton University, we taught six anaesthetists and 31 surgeons from the UK, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and Norway. The doctors share a common passion for using their hands to help those affected by the aggression on Gaza. 

Dr Israar Haq, a general surgeon who joined our course shared, "If you have any grain of humanity in your heart, you want to help." 

BBC spotlight 

BBC-Northwest took notice of our efforts and joined our training. They spoke with experienced surgical trainer, Dr Rebekka Troller, who shared: "The aim is to give the doctors the skills to do damage control, save lives, be the first to respond, and stabilise a patient before they can be transferred."

Our presence at Bolton University also attracted attention from university professors, medical students and doctors. They explored our world-class teaching models and extended a warm welcome to our team in appreciation of our commitment to war doctors. 

Our latest course for Palestine reaffirms our unwavering commitment to helping communities facing the horrors of war. We remain steadfast in our mission to empower medical heroes and make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need. 

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Anaesthesia course in Moldova addresses healthcare challenges amidst Ukraine crisis

In the wake of the escalating conflict in Ukraine, Moldova, a neighbouring country, is grappling with the concern of being somehow drawn into the war. To extend support during these challenging times, the David Nott Foundation, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, conducted two specialised Hostile Environment Surgical Training-Anaesthesia courses in Moldova. 

The refugee influx and healthcare strain

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moldova has witnessed an influx of over 700,000 refugees seeking peace and safety by passing through its borders. Recognising the strain these precipitates to available healthcare resources, the Foundation has provided ongoing support over four courses since January 2023.

 

The anaesthesia (HEST-A) courses, conducted from December 11th to 16th, aimed to up skill 25 anaesthetists to better handle healthcare challenges arising from the crisis. The training spanned six days, with the first three days conducted in English and the subsequent three days in Moldovan. 

Participants expressed satisfaction with the course structure, emphasising the benefit of discussions and supervised practical activity over a lecture-heavy approach. As the anaesthetists underwent training, they raised concerns about resource availability and hospital capacity in the face of refugee movements. In response, our highly skilled teaching faculty offered valuable advice and information.                   

Innovative training models

The courses saw three UK-based faculty members delivering in-person sessions, with an additional faculty member, the Foundation’s lead consultant for anaesthesia, delivering a virtual training session on chemical weapons. 

The David Nott Foundation's HEST-A course in Moldova not only aimed to enhance the skills of healthcare professionals but also addressed specific challenges posed by the Ukraine crisis. By fostering collaboration with WHO and adapting the course content to local needs, the Foundation continues its mission of providing essential medical training in conflict zones to save lives and alleviate human suffering.

“There is nothing more heart-warming, more fulfilling, than seeing the impact of our work through the stories of those we teach To see that connection brought to life is truly a testament to our mission.” - Hannah Graham-Brown, Programmes Officer at The David Nott Foundation

Our training in Moldova


End of Year Reflection from our CEO

At the David Nott Foundation, we strive for a world where access to safe, skilled surgical care is a reality for all.   

In areas affected by conflict and catastrophe, every day doctors are striving to provide care to communities contending with the horrors of war. From Ukraine to Syria, Palestine to Sudan; health systems are under strain and sometimes under attack.

With our small staff team of eight, we deliver training that exceeds what might be expected of an organisation of our sizeThis year, we are immensely proud to have trained 433 surgeons and anaesthetists from Moldova, Yemen, Ukraine, northwest Syria and the UK. That means we’ve trained 1,589 doctors since 2015, expanding our global network of surgical life savers. 

 Responsive. Open-hearted. Committed. It inspires all we do.

 

As 2023 draws to a close, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you who has been a part of the David Nott Foundation journey. This year presented unimaginable challenges, from earthquakes to conflicts, yet your unwavering support allowed us to train 433 surgeons and anaesthetists across the world.

In the face of adversity, our commitment to providing access to safe, skilled surgical care remains stronger than ever. With your generosity, we've made a real impact in communities facing crises. Here's to a future filled with continued growth, empowerment, and positive change. Thank you for being a vital part of our mission.

Wishing you a compassionate and hopeful New Year!

With gratitude, Elly Nott

CEO and Co-Founder

Gaza Emergency Response

 


Surgeons and anaesthetists rapidly trained to treat trauma injuries in Gaza

During a remarkable four-day Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) course, surgeons and anaesthetists from the UK, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Qatar gathered in Bolton to learn how to treat trauma injuries in the Gaza Strip.

Organised in two weeks in collaboration with Palmed, 42 doctors headed for the Middle East were trained to treat complex trauma injuries incurred in the Israel-Gaza conflict. This course not only marks a significant step towards preparing medical professionals for future missions in Palestine but also reflects a shared commitment to saving lives in conflict zones.

 "Thank you to the David Nott Foundation. Without them, this training would not have been possible. Together, we are organising this course to assist the people in the Gaza Strip once it is safe and travel becomes feasible. The response from numerous doctors expressing their desire to help has been overwhelming, and we are hopeful to conduct a second course in the coming weeks." - Riyadh Al Masharqa, Plastic surgeon, PalMed

Addressing urgent medical needs in Gaza

The course was organised in response to the pressing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Palestine. According to on-the-ground partners, medical professionals are stretched to their limits and hospitals are overwhelmed.

The group included specialists in orthopaedic surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatric anaesthesia, and general surgery. Some brought valuable, first-hand experience from regions affected by conflict, like Afghanistan and Syria, while others joined to grow their understanding of how to treat war wounds before heading on mission.

"I'm excited about expanding my skill set beyond obstetrics and gynaecology to acquire new capabilities that will benefit mothers and their infants in Gaza and the West Bank. I recognize the desperate need for assistance in this region. This course is unique as it combines obstetrics and gynaecology with trauma care. This training aims to address complex challenges comprehensively and I look forward to it.” - Dr Iman Al Mabhooh, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

A troop of volunteers

For the very first time, 11 FDNF volunteers from our Friends of The David Nott Foundation (FDNF) and Trainees of The David Nott Foundation (TDNF) societies volunteered to help arrange and assist during the course. This joint effort meant it could be organised at lightning speed, rapidly creating a network of well-trained war doctors.

“Given not only the humanitarian crisis in Gaza but with the targeting of healthcare workers in particular it's never been more important to strengthen our healthcare colleagues and equip them with the skills to do their incredibly difficult jobs and to support them through a very precarious situation.” - Nadia, FDNF Manchester President

Our surgical HEST and anaesthesia courses were held simultaneously, demonstrating our commitment to enhancing the skills of all those striving to preserve life in the operating theatre.

"What has been great about this course is meeting people that have experienced things in the field. From the anaesthetics point of view, it's been helpful to learn how they deal with limited resources and supplies, and we have been using airway mannequins and practicing with video scopes."- Dr Douglas Philpott, Anaesthetist

We’re committed

As war continues to rage, we are working on a second surgical training course with the goal of upskilling even more frontline medical professionals. We won’t stop empowering doctors with the knowledge needed to save lives and limbs against the odds.

Our latest training in Palestine


Funding paediatric trauma training for two Ukrainian surgeons 

In the wake of ongoing conflict, we have taken a significant step in supporting Ukrainian doctors. To further strengthen Ukraine’s medical workforce, we sponsored two doctors, paediatric surgeon Dr Dim Ershov and anaesthetist Dr Olga Panasiuk, to attend the Paediatric Advanced Cadaveric Trauma Surgery (PACTS) course for surgeons. 

After the war erupted, Dr Ershov, and Dr Panasiuk were recruited as surgeons for the Ukrainian army. The two doctors previously met our Co-Founder, Professor David Nott, during one of our surgical training courses in the country. Since March 2022, we have trained over 400 surgeons during 12 surgical training courses in cities such as Odesa, Kyiv, Dnipro, Poltava, Lviv and Zhytomyr.  

Deepening our impact

In a bid to strengthen our support for medical professionals in war and catastrophe, we’ve expanded our offering beyond our flagship Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) course. We worked with leading anaesthetists to develop an anaesthesia course and will be developing a nursing course next year, with the goal of saving even more lives inside and outside the operating theatre. 

We also provide scholarships for frontline doctors in need of additional training. Dr Ershov and Dr Panasiuk were funded by us to attend the PACTS course in Newcastle.   

The course, led by Dr Suren Arul, a paediatric surgeon who previously served in the military, is a two-day intensive program that blends surgical procedures with anaesthetics and nursing. The course incorporates realistic scenarios, including intensive role-playing at six different tables with various surgical cases, simulating the pressured experienced in war zones. 

"They kept us on our toes"

After their two days of training, we met up with Dr Ershov and Dr Panasiuk to ask about their experiences. “Teamwork in the training program put us in a more realistic situation.” shared Dr Panasiuk.  “The models were very interesting, very realistic. They kept us on our toes - as we would be during real surgery.”  

"We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the David Nott Foundation for their unwavering support. As Ukrainians, we wish to express our deepest thanks to David and the entire foundation for their tireless efforts. Through multiple courses, they have saved lives and limbs, standing as champions for Ukraine and democratic freedom. PACTS will equip us with the skills to be more effective. Without their support, we would undoubtedly be prone to making several mistakes."- Drs Ershov and Panasiuk

Protecting Ukraine's children

 Undoubtedly, Dim and Olga can now return to Ukraine equipped with the skills and knowledge to perform life-saving procedures and surgeries, said Dr Suren. "Their participation in the PACTS course, sponsored by the Foundation, has undoubtedly elevated their capabilities, allowing them to make a significant impact in their homeland."

As conflict in Ukraine persists, we will continue to provide training and support to doctors in need. Thanks to a new wealth of knowledge, Dr Dim Ershov and Dr Olga Panasiuk will give more of Ukraine's children hope for the future. 

Our training in Ukraine


MedGlobal Conference 2023: Building resilience amidst disaster

We’re back from Chicago, after two days at MedGlobal’s Annual Conference 2023. The conference brought together medical professionals, humanitarian aid coordinators, volunteers and students to discuss how we build resilience, protect mental health and utilise the power of artificial intelligence in conflict and disaster. 

“We are not immune from conflict and disaster anywhere in the world. Ecuador, Ukraine, Gaza, Yemen, Sudan. Our mission is to ensure the lives of those going through challenge are better.” - Dr Zaher Sahloul, Co-Founder and President of MedGlobal

As conflict and disaster continues to stain our world, humanitarian organisations play a key role in helping communities survive and rebuild, whether by supplying basic resources such as shelter, food, water or clothing, or in the case of our Foundation, empowering doctors with life-saving surgical knowledge.

Despite the importance of humanitarian support, it is critical that communities are empowered to restore and rebuild their own lives - and have the tools to do so.

Local empowerment

Our Co-Founder and CEO Elly Nott spoke on the conference’s opening panel, alongside panellists Dr Omar Lateef, Chief Executive of RUSH University Medical Centre in Chicago, Sarah Eyring, Direction of Operations at the Stirling Foundation, and Sharon Eubank, Director of Humanitarian Services at Latter-Day Saint Charities. The group discussed how we can help communities become more resilient.

Elly shared: “What’s needed is a unified effort and giving locally-led organisations the space to flourish. They are closest to the need and what their communities require.”

For communities to rebuild, four things are vital:

  1. Humanitarian funding needs to be long-term, not just one to two-year funding cycles
  2. More funding must reach locally-led organisations, not as sub-contractors, but leaders of their own restoration
  3. Governance must be front and centre of all efforts
  4. Our healthcare workers must be better protected

Healthcare is a human right

Speaking about protection, Elly shared: “Healthcare is under attack wherever we look. We’ve seen it in over 900 verified attacks in Syria. The mental health effects on our healthcare workers are immense.”

In addition to advocating for the protection of our doctors, programmes like our Train the Trainers course hand the power to surgeons and anaesthetists in conflict and catastrophe, giving them knowledge and skills they can share with their colleagues. Sharing forms bonds and will help clinical teams make quick, effective decisions together, despite surrounding in chaos.

“Mental health gets better when you believe in what you’re doing. Local empowerment will build improved mental health. If you feel valued, invested in, connected as a team and part of change – mental health will get better.” – Dr Omar Lateef

Lifetime Achievement Award

Outside of relationship building and discussion during panels, our Co-Founder Professor David Nott was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to humanitarian surgery on the frontline. He received a standing ovation from approximately 400 gala attendees, after sharing stories from his time in Aleppo.

"I was operating on a little girl. All of a sudden, we were told to evacuate as the hospital was about to be bombed. I looked at the anaesthetist, and said I wasn't leaving. They didn't leave either. Together, we operated on the little girl - and no bomb came. She survived."

We thank MedGlobal for their generosity and invitation. Together, we will continue to serve, support and empower communities in need.

Our mission


AIDEX Conference 2023: Joining forces and empowering local communities

In October, our team flew to Geneva to attend this year’s AIDEX Conference, bringing humanitarian leaders, local partners and NGOs together to discuss the world’s forgotten crises and humanitarian needs.

AIDEX presents a powerful opportunity to build collaboration, for common good

- Nicholas Rutherford, Managing Director of AIDEX and Development 2023

This year’s theme at AIDEX, ‘forgotten crises’, was a sobering yet deeply important topic. Discussions and workshops during the two-day conference shone a light on crises that lack prolific media attention, such as in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Chad and beyond.

Without an international spotlight, multiple communities across the globe are suffering the effects of conflict and natural disasters. To meet the growing needs of millions requiring humanitarian aid, we need a step change.

As stressed by Dominik Stillhart from Swiss Humanitarian Aid, “maintaining the status quo is not sufficient”. Together, NGOs and aid organisations must join forces to have greater, collective impact in the communities that need it.

True impact means localisation

Humanitarian action must be shaped by voices within affected communities, to ensure the problem is better understood and met with the right solution. Local communities must be empowered to rebuild their own lives in the long term. To do this, investment in locally-led organisations is crucial.

Local empowerment remains at our heart.

We upskill doctors living and working within conflict and catastrophe zones to become trainers themselves. We have trainers in northwest Syria, Palestine, Sudan, and in due course, Ukraine.

We don’t forget

Syria has long been out of the media spotlight, yet the northwest faces consistent bombardment and indiscriminate attacks, wounding and killing civilians and putting their already-fractured healthcare system under greater strain.

Since 2012, our Co-Founder David Nott has built a long-standing relationship of mutual respect and trust with Syrian doctors, something we sustain to this day. In May, we upskilled surgeons in northwest Syria to treat and rehabilitate those injured during the earthquake. 90% of our trainers were Syrian and the course was taught in Arabic – making our course even more accessible.

The media spotlight may move on, but we will continue to focus our attention and resources on crises for as long as we are needed.

Our latest training in Syria


Our action in response to the Israel-Gaza war

As a humanitarian organisation delivering surgical training to doctors in regions affected by conflict and catastrophe, we have been devastated by the recent escalation of violence in the Middle East.

We have been in contact with our partners, including Juzoor and Action for Humanity, local faculty of trainers, and those we’ve previously trained, to gather a comprehensive picture of the injuries being encountered and needs of medical professionals on the ground.

Reports reveal that many healthcare facilities are under severe strain. Emergency departments are under immense pressure, with growing numbers of trauma injuries due to shellings, shrapnel or collapsed buildings. Supplies at blood banks and basic medical resources are also running low.

Our action

To support hard-to-reach medical professionals at this time, we:

Turned our world-class surgical training course into a series of short videos that can be watched in their own time. We’ve shared our English and Arabic videos with local doctors across the region.

 

Shared our videos with local partner medical professional networks, ensuring even more doctors in need can benefit from the resource.

 

Invited local doctors to our global case study discussion forum to share patient cases and gain advice from peers around the world.

 

Exploring a bespoke discussion forum for doctors affected by this crisis, where our faculty of trainers and others can offer advice and surgical guidance more personally.

As the emergency unfolds, we will continue to monitor how best to support doctors under pressure until we are able to deliver our surgical training course in person.

Elly Nott, our Co-Founder and CEO, said:

“We are appalled by the violence and loss of life in Israel and Gaza and extend our condolences to all who have lost loved ones.

Following the attacks, many are contending with injuries of vast complexity, scale and intensity.

Healthcare workers should be able to deliver life-saving care to their communities free from the threat of violence and parties should uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law.

Access and protection for humanitarians delivering assistance to those civilians affected is essential.”

Our training in Ramallah


Royal Parks runners help us train more doctors

We are continuously amazed by our supporters. This year's Royal Parks Half Marathon saw many of our supporters take to London's streets to raise thousands for doctors living and working in the world's most dangerous corners. Thanks to their determination, doctors in territories such as Ukraine, Yemen, Palestine and Syria will receive the surgical training needed to treat traumatic injuries and save lives.  

Our photographer and videographer, Lucy Lyon, swapped her camera for trainers and took part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon with her brother, Duncan. Together, the pair have raised over £3000 for our mission.

"It was an amazing day in many ways. Golden leafed London parks with warm sun, every shape and ethnicity, age and gender moving along side by side, in a steady tide, for thousands of different causes.

Everyone smiled, no one pushed or shoved. There was a human tree, and a very hot lion, tiger, and a bear. Even a rhino.  A man with a fridge on his back, and people in wheelchairs.

The supporters were everywhere, drumming and cheering us along. It was a morning well spent and all the while jogging along beside me was my little brother.

We agreed that running that distance together was more like running with a pet - a silent but constant companion. And the best bit about running in your late 40s is the gratitude you feel to those legs and feet for their constancy and power.

We have so far raised enough to support the training of at least two surgeons from a conflict zone, who will go on to save hundreds of lives in their region."

If you'd like to set yourself a challenge or raise funds for a cause that changes the lives of communities in conflict, get started today. Thank you to each and every person who supports our mission.

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