Fellowships in Burkina Faso: Learning in spite of the pandemic

When they began their fellowship at the Sourou Sanou University Hospital (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sourou Sanou) in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, Drs Candide Flatin and Ibrahim Mama, both general practitioners and orthopedic residents from Benin, had no idea that the course of their fellowship would be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two fellows arrived early in March 2020 at the trauma and orthopedics department led by Professor Patrick Dakouré, faculty for the AO Alliance, and were very quickly confronted with COVID-19 as one of them tested positive. Immediate steps were taken to isolate them both.

Their quarantine time was spent reviewing their surgical course materials. Once they were cleared to return to the hospital, elective surgical and outpatient consultations had been cancelled. The fellows were assigned to the emergency department.

Their fellowship was extended until August, when the reopening of the borders allowed them to return home. Back in Cotonou, Benin, our two fellows were able to resume their medical practice and heaped praise on their fellowship experience.

Candide Flatin noted that he made significant progress in certain orthopedic practices, notably by more frequently applying AO principles and techniques using plates and screws to be kind to the soft tissues.

Ibrahim Mama noticed that he practices surgery with much more ease. He provided the example of fractures of the distal femur that he now manages with condylar plates, which improves patient outcomes. “This fellowship has made me a more competent and well-equipped trauma and orthopedic surgeon,” he notes with great satisfaction.

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Dr. Ibrahim Mama in the operating theatre

Dr Candide Flatin and his patient


Dr Ibrahim Mama in front of the hospital in Bobo Dioulasso

Dr Candide Flatin