MUHAS deserves kudos for launching first anaesthesia laboratory

12Apr 2019
The Guardian
MUHAS deserves kudos for launching first anaesthesia laboratory

Anesthesia or anaesthesia (from Greek ‘without sensation’) is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. It may include analgesia (relief from or prevention of pain), paralysis (muscle relaxation), amnesia (loss of memory), or-

unconsciousness. A patient under the effects of anesthetic drugs is referred to as being anesthetized. Anesthesia enables the painless performance of medical procedures that would otherwise cause severe or intolerable pain to an unanesthetised patient, or would otherwise be technically unfeasible. 

In preparing for a medical procedure, the clinician chooses one or more drugs to achieve the types and degree of anesthesia characteristics appropriate for the type of procedure and the particular patient. The types of drugs used include general anesthetics, local anesthetics, hypnotics, sedatives, neuromuscular-blocking drugs, narcotics, and analgesics. 

Risks during and following anesthesia are difficult to quantify, since many may be related to a variety of factors related to anesthesia itself, the nature of the procedure being performed and the patient's medical health. Examples of major risks include death, heart attack and pulmonary embolism whereas minor risks can include postoperative nausea and vomiting and hospital readmission. 

Tanzania’s first Anaesthesia and Critical Care Simulation Laboratory was launched  recently at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), billed to improve surgical services and increase the number of specialists in the field, as it will double as a training facility.

The lab is also expected to enable a sharp diminution in the number of deaths caused by poor anaesthesia arising from lack of trained staff in the country, plus absence of infrastructure and equipment especially in rural areas.

The lab set up by Gradian Health Systems, a U.S-based medical technology company, and MUHAS is expected to be a facility for provision of sophisticated training designed for practicing real-world scenarios in a safe learning environment. 

It is also a symbol of public-private partnership (PPP) and combines specialized training facilities with world-class technology to transform anaesthesia care in every region of Tanzania.

Anaesthesia care is necessary for any surgical procedure, but in Tanzania, the lack of trained anaesthesia staff, infrastructure and equipment leads to high rates of preventable deaths and disabilities.

The setting up of this laboratory is a milestone achievement in critical and anaesthesia care as it supports the government’s efforts to reduce maternal and new-born mortality under its current Health Sector Strategic Plan.Available data shows there is one anaesthesiologist per million people—meaning most surgeries are performed by non-physicians with a year or less of training. Anaesthesia care requires reliable electricity and supplies of medical oxygen, which is often expensive or unavailable.

Anaesthesia equipment and supplies are either old, broken or non-existent in rural settings, leaving health providers to manage patients with less effective, riskier methods of care.  

Due in part to challenges around anaesthesia, roughly one woman and four newly born die during childbirth every hour in Tanzania, while road accidents kill at least two persons and countless others are injured.  

This reality has personal, social and economic impacts on families and communities. Improved access to anaesthesia care in remote settings will bring safe surgery closer to where emergencies occur, saving the lives of women, children and other surgical patients 

Todate, more than 200 Tanzanian health facilities have been equipped with the UAM, an investment of more than three million US dollars.  

Top Stories