A mixed-methods evaluation of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland Uganda Fellowship Scheme
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The Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland and the then Uganda Society of Anaesthesia established the Uganda Fellowship Scheme in 2006, to provide scholarships to encourage doctors to train in anaesthesia in Uganda. We conducted an evaluation of this programme using online questionnaires and face‐to‐face semi‐structured interviews with trainees who received scholarships, as well as with senior surgeons and anaesthetists. Focus group discussions were held to assess changes in attitudes towards anaesthesia over the last 10 years. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using the constant comparative method. A total of 54 Ugandan doctors have received anaesthesia scholarships since 2006 (median funding per trainee (IQR [range]) £5520 (£5520–£6750 [£765–£9000]). There has been a four‐fold increase in the number of physician anaesthetists in Uganda during this time. All those who received funding remain in the region. The speciality of anaesthesia is undergoing a dramatic transformation led by this group of motivated young anaesthetists. There is increased access to intensive care, and this has allowed surgical specialities to develop. There is greater understanding and visibility of anaesthesia, and the quality of education in anaesthesia throughout the country has improved. The Uganda Fellowship Scheme provided a relatively small financial incentive to encourage doctors to train as anaesthetists. Evaluation of the project shows a wide‐ranging impact that extends beyond the initial goal of simply improving human resource capacity. Financial incentives combined with strong ‘north‐south’ links between professional organisations can play an important role in tackling the shortage of anaesthesia providers in a low‐income country and in improving access to safe surgery and anaesthesia.