Joining forces with WHO to train 30 Moldovan surgeons

At the invitation of the World Health Organisation (WHO), we were honoured to train 30 surgeons during our first Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) course in Moldova’s capital city, Chișinău.

Faculty Lead: Dr Ammar Darwish. Faculty Trainers: Dr Pete Mathew, Dr Una Walsh, Dr Moez Zeiton, Dr Mahmut Hariri, Dr Jennifer Oliveira-Davies. Programmes Lead: Darius Bahmaie.

When we formed the David Nott Foundation, we did not anticipate running a training course in Moldova for surgeons facing trauma injuries inflicted by conflict. However, due to its geographical proximity to Ukraine, Moldova’s health system has faced a range of challenges in the past year following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.

The state of 2.7 million people has opened its borders to Ukrainians forced to flee Russia’s aggression. It hosts the highest number of Ukrainian refugees per capita compared to other EU and EU-neighbouring countries. Refugees arrive with a variety of needs, including requirements for care for pre-existing health conditions, psychological trauma and physical injuries.

To support Moldovan doctors as they seek to accommodate the health needs of Ukrainian arrivals, the World Health Organisation invited us to deliver our 5-day HEST course to 30 local surgeons, giving them life-saving surgical skills in addition to useful tools for effective triage and overall management of mass casualties.

To make the course as accessible as possible for Romanian-speaking attendees, WHO secured two outstanding medical translators. Digiwave translation headsets were handed to every participant, giving them the opportunity to experience our training in a language familiar to them.

Elly Nott, our Co-Founder and CEO at the David Nott Foundation, said:

“We believe access to safe, skilled surgical care is a human right. It motivates everything we do, and every decision we make.

Since starting our mission in 2015, we’ve offered surgical knowledge to our brothers and sisters in conflicted territories such as Syria, Libya, Palestine, Kenya, and most recently, over 200 surgeons across Ukraine. We know how vital it is for healthcare workers to feel seen, supported, and be prepared.

We have been truly overwhelmed by the commitment of the Moldovan surgeons we’ve trained to better serve their communities and learn new skills.

It is our sincere hope that our Moldovan friends will never need to use the surgical skills we taught them, but if so, well-trained doctors will be equipped to build healthcare resilience and save more lives.

We hope this is the beginning of our relationship with the healthcare workers of Moldova, and our WHO partners, and are immensely excited for the future.”

Addressing course attendees on the first day of training, Dr Vitalii Stetsyk, Technical Officer in the Health Emergencies Programme at WHO Europe, said:

“This course is a unique opportunity to learn from specialist trainers who have spent years in countries facing emergency situations, such as conflicts and wars.

The Foundation’s course will strengthen surgical competencies while helping doctors to build new networks. Building networks and sharing knowledge are vital. They save lives.”

When we are prepared, we are empowered.

Dr Ammar Darwish, General Surgeon and Faculty Lead on this course, said:

“It was a pleasure to run such a successful HEST course with an excellent group of Moldovan surgeons. They were experienced, and eager and enthusiastic to engage and build their surgical skills.

The professionalism and commitment from the World Health Organisation and the Moldovan Surgical Society to deliver shared success and benefit Moldova, led to great collaboration and an impactful mission.”

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