The president of West African Confederation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists, Dr. Oladapo in this interview spoke on issues concerning Anaesthesia. Excerpts:
Anaesthesia as a branch of Medicine, what is it all about?
Anaesthesia is a specialization of medicine that deals with reversible, controllable and predictable methods of pain relief for operative surgery; with or without loss of consciousness. Anaesthetists primarily therefore work in the operating theatre. However and owing to their in-depth training on principles of measurement and monitoring equipments as well as acute medicine, anaesthetists are often in charge of the Intensive Care Units.
Kindly throw more light on the ESSENCE of the association, the history behind its formation.
The WACSA was formed in 1994 to replace the Society of Anaesthetists of West Africa (SAWA) when it became expedient for individual member societies that made up the defunct SAWA to have their separate national societies.
SAWA until that time was the only anaesthetic society in the West African Sub region. The formation of WACSA gave birth to new anaesthetic societies in: Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cote de vory, Cameroun, Burkinafaso and other francophone countries.
What are the strength of the Association and perhaps its weakness as well?
The association regulates through each national society that practice of anaesthesia in the sub-region. The confederation involves itself with training of manpower as well as standardization of equipment structure expected in the practice of anaesthesia. We meet every two years to review our practice and try to aim at harmonization of standards. We prescribe minimum safe standards for the practice of anaesthesia.
Its weakness lies in our inability to influence what each society or country decides to do. We are however making efforts to get a lot done through the West African Health Community Council to direct each country on any issue that we consider to be very important for the safe and general practice of anaesthesia in the sub-region.
Considering the fact that the Confederation is West Africa based, how often do you meet your executives and where?
Normally we meet at our two yearly congresses. The routine administration of anaesthetic practice is left with the respective national societies. An executive meeting could be convened as need arises. This however has not been necessary since we started the confederation.
Are there special project(s) that you intend to embark on outside the confederation general functions?
We are being guided by our constitution and we need to work within what is allows. We may look into the possibility of establishing a training institution for some rare areas of our specialty. In this respect and owing to our being technologically disadvantage, a school to train technicians in the maintenance of our numerous equipment may be one of those function that we need assistance and sponsor for.
We also look forward to state when the control of the practice of Anaesthesia profession will be vested in national bodies and by extension to the confederation.
How did you emerge as the association president? How did you feel after being made the president?
I emerge as the 2nd president of WACSA at our annual scientific congress at Accra Ghana in March 2010 succeeding Prof Martin Chobli of Benin republic. Hitherto, I was the vice-president and have been following the trends and development of SAWA and WACSA closely.
Let me quickly inform you that I was the immediate past president of the Nigerian Society of Anaesthetists (NSA) when I had the opportunity to lead for four years. This gave me an insight into how we function. It was therefore a call back to duties this time at a higher level of responsibility.
After my election, I gave God the glory for making it possible for me to get to the highest appointment in anaesthesia in the sub-region and thank my colleagues for unanimously electing me unopposed.
What are the major challenges facing the association?
The major challenges are in the area of finance and communication. Being a mixture of Anglophone and francophone countries, contributions from member societies have not been regular. With the floating of an e-mail address, we are trying to overcome our communication problem.
Very soon a website will be uploaded to disseminate information and for other useful purposes. We need sponsors to our congresses in order to bring in new technologies in our specialization.
What are your plans on how to address the immediate and general Challenges facing the association?
The secretariat will intensify effort at getting our sister societies to fund the congress. We are reaching out to major equipment manufacturers in the field of anaesthesia to come to our congress and exhibit their products.
This has the advantage of getting the end users interested and used to these machines. We could them negotiate with them a train the user workshop and work out an agreement.
At various congresses, relevant current problems will be discussed as it affects the practice of anaesthesia in our sub –region. The next congress will be at Lagos in March 2012.