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Posted on Nov 10, 2014

Canadian Network of International Surgery

Canadian Network of International Surgery

The CNIS  has become a world leader and educational role model in the complex challenge of training and empowering surgical and obstetrical care-givers in developing countries.

Since its establishment in 1995 it has developed a powerful strategy founded on close partnerships with the leaders of medical schools and surgical and obstetrical departments in developing countries, primarily those in east Africa.  Leader from both Canada and Africa jointly developed curricula for short, extremely practical, intense, courses.  Courses are led by are both Canadian and African surgeon specialists  trained to lead these courses.  All courses are carefully structured and with clear objectives.  Teaching is hands on and interactive.  Models are heavily used and range from mannequins to animal tissues to simple composites of materials that can be collected from any African market to simulate human anatomy and make practise possible.

The cooperative Canadian-African model is nurtured in each new centre to establish continuity and long term relationship.  Teaching materials are kept securely locked in each centre until the next course.  Our African surgeon colleagues are treated with great respect, earn a modest stipend with each course, and enjoy teaching with Canadian surgeons.  African student doctors respond very positively to practical courses that are well designed, well equipped with models, taught with energy and enthusiasm.

The flagship CNIS course was called “Essential Surgical Skills” (ESS) which has been completed now by over 5000 graduating medical students, interns and clinical officers.  But the model was so successful that other courses have been developed.  The Structured Operative Obstectrics (SOO) course was designed by a team lead by Dr. Lorraine Woolford and piloted first in 2007.  Since then it has been highly successful teaching principles and techniques of assisted delivery, C section and obstetrical complications.  Learn more about SSO

Other courses have been developed to teach principles of trauma management, burn management, hernia repair and patient transfer.

CNIS leaders have also been at the forefront  working with African colleagues to address the crisis of extremely high trauma rates in African and to develop preventative strategies.


Sound interesting?  Browse the CNIS website.  Learn more about its leadership.  Consider becoming a member.  Consider taking a weekend course in Canada on how to be a CNIS instructor and then travel with a more experienced Canadian surgeon to co-lead a course in Africa.