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Professor Kokila Lakhoo was recently invited to the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) as an external examiner for the Paediatric Surgery Fellowship Exams. In addition to the exams contribution, Professor Lakhoo and colleagues ran the BAPS HG neonatal skills course and a research seminar for beginners and advance participants. Read the full report below.

Participants practising skills in neonatal surgery.

The faculty was my research team (myself, Dennis Mazingi, Gerlin Naidoo, Fungai Dengu, Soham Bandyopadhyay and Professor Ashok Handa) and one member from the BAPS (British Association of Paediatric Surgeons) international affairs committee (Haitham Dagash) which Gerlin Naidoo, Dennis Mazingi and I are also a member of. The research team joined forces with the BAPS team to contribute as faculty to the neonatal skills course.

HG Neonatal Skills Course (1-2 December 2023)

Participants practising skills in neonatal surgery.The entire faculty with local help worked the day before to prepared sheep tissue obtained by the skills laboratory technician to create low fidelity simulation models for above course. This is a skilled based course in neonatal surgery. We had 22 participants ranging from core trainees to adult general and paediatric surgical trainees. The models covered bowel anastomosis, gastrostomies, duodenal atresia, and repair of tracheo-oesophageal fistula and oesophageal atresia. We did a pre and post-test which showed an average of 85% improvement and the feedback was again very positive with a request for video clips of each station. We also ran a training the trainer session parallel to the course to create a local faculty.

Research Seminar (3 December 2023)

Participants listening to the research seminar.The research seminar was conducted over the whole day with a basic and advance section. We had 30 participants with a mixed group of trainees needing basic research skills and an advance group of early years consultants requiring an advanced programme. The ask was basic and advanced research skills. The seminar mainly concentrated on case report, case series and literature review skills. A six-person breakout group task was created to formulate a research question leading to a systematic review. The participants presented their work and wish to work on this in real time. Further discussions were had on other research methodologies and links and references on where such literature could be obtained.

Dennis Mazingi in discussion with some of the participants during the research seminar.The second half of the day concentrated on advance research skills whilst the basic group did a second research exercise. The feedback was very positive. The participants were encouraged to join the online research programme run by the Oxford University NDS Global Surgery research team. The take home message was that research is not confined to university staff, but should be brought into the clinical arena as clinical researchers are important and relevant to improve health care.

Fellowship Exams (4-5 December 2023)

Professor Handa was an examiner for the adult general surgery fellowship exams.

I was the external examiner for the Paediatric Surgery Fellowship Exams.

Dr Haitham Dagash was an examiner for the fellowship exams in Paediatric Surgery.

Paediatric Surgery Fellowship Exams

Five examiners from the COSECSA Paediatric Surgery Examination Board, including Professor Kokila Lakhoo.There were nine candidates and 27 examiners including three observers, one internal and one external examiner. All the examiners were from the continent bar five who came from USA, UK, Europe, and Canada to have international representation for standard setting for the COSECSA examinations. We had 10 stations with two scenarios each covering 20 topics. The exams had good clinical cases in 14 stations and six via stations. Examiners were paired as new and experienced per station. There were three floating examiners who covered conflict when the examiner’s trainee was being examined. There were seven passes and two failures. The quality of the examination is of high standing and continues to improve, keeping up with international standards.

The female examiners at the Paediatric Surgery Examiners Debriefing.

A Paediatric Surgery Examiners Debriefing, and preparation for next year, was held at a pleasant garden venue. Female examiners make up almost 50% now of the Examination Board.


Professor Kokila Lakhoo participating in a conference group discussion.The conference was attended by three members of the faculty as the others returned home for clinical commitments. I was required to attend the examination meeting and planning for a change in exams, and I was also required to attend the multiple meetings planned parallel to the conference including two rural visits outside of Addis Ababa in the north and south of the country.

This trip was jointly funded by AFOX , KIDSOR and Hugh Greenwood Family (Children’s Research Fund).

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