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Surgical Distance Learning Programme’s Philanthropic Activity

The MSc in Surgical Sciences, launched in 2007 and now recruiting almost 200 new students a year, is enjoying the success of its growing philanthropic activity. In November 2013, the first fully grant funded Malawian student to graduate from the award-winning MSc in Surgical Sciences, visited Edinburgh to receive his Masters Degree.

Dr Lughano Kalongolera was the first doctor from his country to graduate from an online surgical training programme. The innovative teaching method has enabled him to study remotely while continuing to work in his local hospital.

Dr Lughano Kalongolera (pictured) who is based at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine in Blantyre, said he was keen to improve his skills so that he could help tackle the many pressing health challenges in his country.

Dr Lughano landscape

Most doctors have to travel abroad to acquire such knowledge and many do not return. By studying online with the University of Edinburgh, I have been able to remain in Malawi to learn, while continuing to treat those who need me most

Dr Lughano Kalongolera

Professor James Garden, Programme Director for the MSc in Surgical Sciences and a Council Member of the RCSEd, said: “Dr Kalongolera’s graduation is evidence that the professional and academic development of the surgical trainee can be delivered effectively at a distance. His experience and success underlines the versatility of our award-winning Masters programme in meeting the demands of surgical trainees, no matter where they are based. Our specific success in Malawi is likely to have significant impact in a country which has only 14 surgeons serving a population of 13 million.”

Two further Malawian students will graduate in November 2014 and a further seven grant funded students are currently studying the MSc in Surgical Sciences with on-going support from Scottish Government, Johnson and Johnson and Physicians for Peace. PfP had approached the programme offering support following very positive feedback from past and current students.

In addition, the first recipient of the Garden Scholarship, which resulted from two Chicago marathons, Dr Juana Kabba will travel from Sierra Leone to attend the November graduation ceremony to collect his Masters Degree.

The course has enriched every aspect of my career and life. At my job, I practice evidenced-based medicine; as a surgical resident, it gave me understanding in surgical procedures and how they are applied. At the discussion boards, I was able to virtually meet and make new friends from many countries! This qualification has made me more competent and led to better job opportunities for me. I could become a lecturer; I can take membership and then fellowship exams; it has given me a firm foundation for clinical research. Finally, in June 2012, on my way back from taking the ESSQ year-one exam at Edinburgh University, I came across a lady in London who later became my wife (now Mrs Rani Kabba)!

Dr Juana Kabba

The Garden Scholarship is now supporting a Zambian student. There is a strong desire to continue to extend the surgical distance learning programmes’ outreach beyond Malawi by identifying additional grant funding since it is evident that there is strong global demand.