MRCG at LSHTM to Enhance Cardiac Care Through Innovative Ultrasound Training

The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) offered an intensive training program on Point of Care Ultrasound Echocardiography. The training, held from January 2nd to 6th 2024, aimed to enhance the skills of 24 attendees, including 15 from Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), two from Kanifing General Hospital, and the remaining participants from MRCG at LSHTM.
Ultrasound training session

The training, funded by Sustainable Cardiovascular Health Equity Development Alliance (SCHEDA) and MRCG at LSHTM through a grant from the Training Department and contributions from the MRCG Clinical Services Department budget, aimed to empower doctors with the ability to conduct rapid assessments of heart function in acutely ill patients and to utilise advanced techniques in Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Echocardiography. POCUS is a vital tool for healthcare providers, particularly in low-resource settings, enabling the diagnosis and treatment of critically ill patients. The course focusing on echocardiography and lung ultrasound in The Gambia is a crucial initiative to enhance the diagnostic capabilities of healthcare professionals. 

The training program was designed by a broad team of experts: academics and POCUS specialists from the University of California Davis Emergency Medicine training program and a medical physicist from the University of Minnesota

As a significant contribution to the healthcare infrastructure, four handheld ultrasound probes along with iPads for their application were donated by SCHEDA. The donation is poised to have a notable impact, with one ultrasound probe and iPad allocated to MRCG at LSHTM and the remaining three directed to EFSTH. 

Dr Ngoneh Jallow, Division Director of Medical Physics Division, Department of Radiology at the University of Minnesota, and Chair of the Board of Directors at SCHEDA said “It is fantastic to see what can be achieved when everyone works together; the program shows great promise and we look forward to working with our partners at MRC Unit The Gambia, EFSTH, and our collaborators and teachers from UC Davis, University of California to continue these meaningful training courses.”

Christine McBeth, Course Director, highlighted the significance of offering this training to healthcare professionals in The Gambia and the potential positive outcomes it could bring to the healthcare landscape in the region. 

“The Gambia is a perfect environment for portable ultrasounds to make a real difference in patient care and to save lives. This course is a great starting point, and we will continue a longitudinal educational plan with ongoing lectures, quality assurance and follow-up education and training to ensure it is utilized in the best way possible, with patient safety always at the forefront.”

Karen Forrest, Head of Clinical Services Department at MRCG at LSHTM, said that “The Clinical Services Department aims to improve the ability of its medical staff to make rapid diagnoses, enabling them to quickly intervene when patients are sick. This training adds to these skills - providing them with the ability to assess hearts and lungs in acutely ill patients, so that they can provide care immediately and before the patients are well enough to transfer for more definitive assessment. This will enable us to improve the quality of care provided to our patients.”

Lamin Makalo, a Medical Doctor at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, underlined the significance of participating in a course at MRCG at LSHTM.

“Respiratory and cardiac conditions are prevalent among children in The Gambia, often going undiagnosed in a timely manner. Such training sessions will contribute to improving my skills for prompt diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, ultimately reducing disabilities, and preventing fatalities.”

Ousman Bah, a Medical Officer at MRCG at LSHTM, also highlighted the profound impact the training will have on his ability to swiftly assess heart function in critically ill patients.

"This training is a game-changer, enhancing our capacity to make rapid assessments of heart function in acutely ill patients. It's a significant step toward providing more precise and timely medical interventions." 

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