Global Health Elective Resumes in Rwanda

The Department of Anesthesiology's Global Health Elective has resumed! Dr. Sheida Tabaie and CA-3 resident Dr. Ryan Ference traveled to Rwanda in March for the department's first Global Health elective post-pandemic. An integral part of the residency's Global Health program, the elective is run in collaboration with the American Society of Anesthesiologists' Committee on Global Health and the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society International Education Foundation (CASIEF).

Dr. Tabaie, an assistant professor of clinical anesthesiology, has been leading the Rwanda elective since 2018 and was delighted to return to work with her Rwandan colleagues to educate the anesthesiology residents and medical students at the University of Rwanda and the University of Global Health Equity.

Drs. Tabaie and Ference spent most of their time in Kigali, Rwanda's dynamic and hilly capital, teaching at CHUK, the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, and King Faisal Hospital. A highlight of their work was the lively didactic sessions with both the junior and senior anesthesiology residents at the University of Rwanda, imparting clinical pearls not explicitly found in textbooks based on their clinical experience and expertise. During a discussion about neuromuscular blockade with the junior residents, they used Dr. Tabaie as a model to test subjective twitch monitoring with a peripheral nerve stimulator! 

"We were able to enhance their clinical teaching and learning opportunities both in the OR and ICU," said Dr. Tabaie. "One focus of my teaching in the ICU was the art of presenting the critically ill patient. Being able to succinctly and accurately communicate information about a patient to your colleagues is an important skill in critical care."

For Dr. Ference, the opportunity to collaborate on important topics with the Rwandan anesthesiology team was meaningful. At the CHUK teaching hospital, he worked with the obstetrical anesthesia team.

"We frequently discussed the barriers preventing widespread access to epidurals for laboring women," he said. "By sharing my experience providing labor analgesia at Cornell, we were able to brainstorm ways in which they could institute a labor analgesia protocol for women at their hospital."

Teaching in Rwanda

The team also travelled outside of Kigali with colleagues from Indego Africa, a nonprofit organization that supports women-owned businesses in Rwanda by providing artisans with a global market for their handmade products and investing in their education. In collaboration with their Indego Africa colleagues, Drs. Tabaie and Ference delivered sexual health educational sessions to Rwandan women in Bugesera and to women in the Mahama Refugee camp.

Dr. Tabaie has been working with Indego Africa since 2017. She was previously the recipient of a grant, in partnership with Indego Africa, to examine sexual health knowledge levels in female asylum seekers in New York City.

Global health visit to Rwanda

When not at the hospital, Drs. Tabaie and Ference had the opportunity to explore Rwandan culture. They visited some of Rwanda's genocide memorials, learning about the impact of the genocide on Rwandan society, and participated in a cultural festival. They also explored outside of Kigali, visiting Volcanoes National Park to hike and catch a glimpse of the majestic gorillas, and enjoyed spending time and getting to know their Rwandan colleagues outside the hospital.

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