“Good use of time makes the time even more precious”  

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Time is a precious commodity. More so, inside an operating theatre (OT) where every second could make the difference between life and death. Establishing proper OT practices helps with infection control and efficient use of time. It’s crucial that hospital staff adopt the procedures to be able to serve their communities better.

Rita Agbemenu, 37, a surgical nurse from Ghana, has built a career working in the theatre for over 12 years. She is based at 37th Military hospital in Accra, Ghana, but recently spent the latter half of 2014 working with the ICRC in South Sudan. During her stint in the country, which has been reeling from conflict for the last 18 months, she assisted in a number of operations on weapon-wounded victims.

In April this year, after the recent completion of rehabilitation works in the OT’s physical layout and hospital buildings, ICRC Somalia delegation enlisted Rita to share her expertise with theatre staff of Kismayo and Baidoa hospitals.

The training program aimed to improve efficiency in operations and proper patient care with emphasis on infection control.

“We covered the layout of the various units in the operating theatre, that is, the operating, recovery and sterilizing rooms. Sterilization was covered extensively and good hygiene and hand washing techniques were emphasized. We also worked on managing effective lists and rosters and generally on improving the workflow.” Rita explains


Rita Agbemenu demonstrates to staff how instruments are set in sterile conditions in the operating theatre

Rita Agbemenu demonstrates to staff how instruments are set in sterile conditions in the operating theatre. © ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

The hands-on training lasted six weeks and involved mostly practical lessons in the OT where staff simulated real-life scenarios.

Rita concluded her short 6 weeks mission having trained a total of 25 surgical staff. She was grateful for the tremendous cooperation and support from the staff and the hospital management. With these new skills and procedures, she is confident, the hospitals are in a better position to serve their communities.

Combined, both hospitals performed over 600 surgeries since the beginning of this year.