Background: An estimated 5 billion people worldwide lack access to any surgical care, whilst surgical conditions account for 11-30% of the global burden of disease. Maximizing the effectiveness of surgical training is imperative to improve access to safe and essential surgical care on a global scale. Innovative methods of surgical training have been used in sub-Saharan Africa to attempt to improve the efficiency of training healthcare workers in surgery. Simulation training may have an important role in up-scaling and improving the efficiency of surgical training and has been widely used in SSA. Though not intended to be a systematic review, the role of simulation for teaching surgical skills in Sub-Saharan Africa was reviewed to assess the evidence for use and outcomes.
Methods: A systematic search strategy was used to retrieve relevant studies from electronic databases PubMed, Ovid, Medline for pertinent articles published until August 2016. Studies that reported the use of simulation-based training for surgery in Africa were included.
Results: In all, 19 articles were included. A variety of innovative surgical training methods using simulation techniques were identified. Few studies reported any outcome data. Compared to the volume of surgical training initiatives that are known to take place in SSA, there is very limited good quality published evidence for the use of simulation training in this context.
Conclusions: Simulation training presents an excellent modality to enhance and improve both volume and access to high quality surgical skills training, alongside other learning domains. There is a desperate need to meticulously evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of simulation training in SSA, where simulation training could have a large potential beneficial impact. Training programs should attempt to assess and report learner outcomes.