The Bright Blue Mongolia Project
For decades, Interplast has worked on the ground in some of the world’s poorest countries to provide free surgical treatment and facilitate safer, healthier and more sustainable healthcare for communities.
In 2008, anaesthetists from the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) approached Interplast to support them with the implementation of a project to increase the number, and improve the quality of anaesthetists in Mongolia through the establishment of a safe anaesthetic training program. Developed in cooperation and collaboration with the Mongolian Society of Anaesthetists (MSA) the program’s goal was to improve residency training and the continuing education of anaesthesia specialists.
The role of the anaesthetist in Mongolia is extensive and critical. Anaesthetists are responsible for all critical care areas including intensive care, resuscitation, emergency care and anaesthesia for surgery and operative obstetrics. There has been a shortage of anaesthetic manpower in Mongolia for the last few decades, compounded by a significant departure from the speciality by many of the anaesthetic consultants. Even in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, hospitals are lacking anaesthetists and the conditions in Aimag (provincial) hospitals are more complicated and dire.
WA Police Commissioner and Chairman of Bright Blue Karl O’Callaghan described “Mongolia as a real adventurous country” when he met with the Ambassador of Mongolia Mr Bold on 12 June 2014 at the Embassy of Mongolia in Canberra.
Bright Blue supports life-changing work in Mongolia
In 2015, Bright Blue Chairman Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan visited Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. He accompanied a week-long Interplast Australia & New Zealand volunteer program activity, including one surgeon, two nurses and a burns therapist. The volunteer team provided mentoring and training to local surgical, nursing and physiotherapy staff from the Burns Department at the National Trauma and Orthopaedic Outreach Centre.
To further strengthen local capacity in burns management, the Interplast team held lectures and workshops for over thirty surgical, nursing and therapy staff. They also provided practical in-theatre teaching, operating on seven patients who required acute and reconstructive burns treatment. The team enjoyed working with our new Mongolian partners, who were all very engaged and committed to learning, asking many questions during the educational sessions.
One highlight of the visit was the treatment of a two year old boy who had suffered burns to his left hand. After the injury, two of his fingers had contracted (fused together). With the help of the Interplast team, his scar contractures were released. After the surgery, the function of the boy’s hand was improved, and in the future he will be able to eat, play and learn much easier than before. “Interplast & Bright Blue are making a BIG difference to these children and their families. Without our support many of these children do not receive the vital skin grafts that will help them lead a normal life after suffering serious burns“, Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan said.
Dr Galbadrakh, the Director of the Burns Department said that the “Training and lectures were very effective” and that “Scar management was a new topic to study for many people“. He went on to say that “One important thing we appreciate most about the Interplast team’s visit was their attitude. They were always ready to help us with what we want“, and that the skills of his team were going to improve through the practical training and support of Interplast.
Dr Galbadrakh thanked the team for coming, and has already invited Interplast back next year to continue mentoring in burns management.
This was Interplast’s first surgical mentoring activity in Mongolia, and would not have taken place if not for Bright Blue’s support. The partnership began last year, when Bright Blue contacted Interplast about establishing a program to help children with burn contractures in Mongolia.
Interplast looks forward to continuing to partner with Bright Blue and the Burns Department in Ulaanbaatar to build the capacity of local burns services in Mongolia.
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