Minister Botha's Address at the Opening of the Karl Storz Surgical Skills Training Centre
CEO of the Children's Hospital Trust, Louise Driver, and Trust colleagues,
CEO of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital, Dr Lungi Linda,
German Consul-General, Mr Hans-Werner Bussmann,
Chairman of Karl Storz Endoscopy South Africa, Kenneth Marcus, and company representatives,
Donors and suppliers,
Prof Alastair Millar, Head of Paediatric Surgery and the surgical team,
Introduction: 18 months ago, when the Children's Hospital Trust embarked on this campaign to raise almost R14 million for the Surgical Skills Training Centre that we are opening today, they were faced with the challenge that we had no dedicated endoscopic training centres in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, and that African specialists and surgeons in training have to travel to Europe or the US to train in endoscopic surgery - a field recognised worldwide for its successful outcomes, also in terms of the surgical experience for the patient.
Business plan: The Trust had to build a convincing business plan to motivate the need for this new nine-station Surgical Skills Training Centre that we are opening today. Together with the state-of-the-art Operating Theatre Complex that the Premier launched the year before last, the new training centre is linked to the theatre complex and Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital and of course ideally placed to advance multi-disciplinary endoscopic surgery skills here in this country and on the continent.
The skills training centre was built on a model of the Laparoscopic Training Centre in Strasbourg, also known as the European Institute of Telesurgery, and a global leader in laparoscopic training.
Donations: The donations to realise the construction of the training centre came from more than 25 donor companies and donors - too many to mention right now - but they are acknowledged on the plaques in the seminar room and boardroom.
R10 million worth of equipment was pledged by Karl Storz, the German manufacturer of endoscopic equipment and, with that, this company also obtained the naming right of this centre. I had the privilege of meeting Frau Storz and her son at the ministry last year, and at this occasion I want to thank them for the trust they have placed in the health sector of this province through this generous donation of advanced digital surgical equipment. The equipment will run a skills laboratory with one master station and eight training stations.
I would like to make special mention of the support and dedication from Mr Kenneth Marcus. He has become a friend of the province and carries the vision of Mrs Storz directly and is responsible for translating it into action. We thank him for his continued support, for sharing his considerable knowledge and experience with us, not only on this project, but on others that we have in development.
Training centre setup: I feel indeed privileged to open this Surgical Skills Training Centre today. The training of new surgeons here will have far-reaching effects for our own people, but more specifically for the children and the future generation of this continent.
African and local surgeons and physicians will be able to train in foundations of endoscopic surgery and other clinically important skills. The eight working stations offer the potential to train two at a time, which translates into 16 trainees at a time, with specialised training equipment directed by the trainer at the master station.
The cost of specialised training in highly endoscopic skills will be substantially reduced because local surgeons will not have to travel and study overseas, and surgeons currently working in other hospitals all over the world will be able to access the equipment offered by this hospital. At present, attending a three-day paediatric surgical advanced course in Strasbourg would cost R20 000, excluding flights and accommodation. This training centre will be able to offer courses of the same standard as those abroad, but at considerably less than the cost of overseas travel, accommodation and other related costs.
High-quality video and digital communication systems will enable surgeons to display all aspects of a procedure to students, allowing for live viewing, teaching and training. Virtual reality technology will facilitate computerised training programmes.
The training centre will be used for those training in specialties other than surgery. Here will be workshops for urologists, anesthetists; physicians will learn lumbar punctures and venous access techniques. Apart from its role as a training centre, the advanced digital technologies offered here will provide a platform for research and case histories.
Patients at the centre: The Western Cape's healthcare vision for 2020 is at present formulated, and at the centre of this vision are our patients and the enhancement of the patient experience. Endoscopy and laparoscopy are minimally invasive surgical techniques, making for much greater patient comfort and swifter recovery. The risk of infection is considerably less. Ultimately it is our patients - not only from the province but from the country and the continent - that will benefit from these new techniques. Shorter hospital stays as a result of endoscopic procedures will greatly enhance our capacity and stretch the health rand.
To this end I would like to thank Professor Alp Numanoglu of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital for the drafting of the business case and technical assistance in the design of the centre, as well as in charting the course for the development of new curricula and content for the training courses. His support and assistance are greatly valued.
In closing: We are immeasurably grateful to the many donors who have donated towards this project which offers the combination of state-of-the-art breakthrough technology, together with the opportunity to train new surgeons. The training centre certainly offers the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital further growth opportunities and expansion into the continent. This underscores the Western Cape's leading role in Africa with regard to training and skills transfer.