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Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(8):688-91.

Training medical assistants for surgery.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique.


A successful programme is reported from Mozambique for training middle-level health workers to perform fairly advanced surgical procedures in remote areas where the services of consultants are virtually unobtainable. Manpower and financial constraints obliged Mozambique to train medical assistants to perform surgical work in rural areas, where three broad priorities were identified: pregnancy-related complications, trauma-related complications, and emergency inflammatory conditions. Since 1984, 20 health workers have emerged from three-year courses to become técnicos de cirurgía (assistant medical officers), and it is expected that there will be 46 by 1999. The training comprises two years of lectures and practical sessions in the Maputo Central Hospital, and a practical internship lasting a year at a provincial hospital. Three workshops organized since 1989 suggest that the upgraded personnel are performing well. More detailed evaluation and follow-up are in progress. Throughout 1995 a follow-up was conducted on 14 assistant medical officers. They performed 10,258 surgical operations, some 70% of which were emergency interventions. Low rates of complication occurred and postoperative mortality amounted to 0.4% and 0.1% in emergency and elective interventions respectively.

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