SASA CEO, Natalie Zimmelman, discusses how WFSA membership facilitates SASA’s work to strengthen anaesthesia provision in South Africa and across Africa.
SASA seeks to enhance the quality and safety of anaesthesia practice and ensure the sustainability of the profession through programmes that range from wellness in anaesthesia to workforce diversity.
The South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) represents over 90% of the country’s anaesthesia providers. Our 2,400 members include specialist and non-specialist anaesthesia providers, nurses and trainees.
SASA works within a challenging environment with a weak and fragmented national healthcare system that includes less than 3 anaesthesiologists per 100 000 population and an extremely low nursing capacity.
SASA is a relatively small organisation that works in a challenging healthcare environment. This has meant that the support and guidance of our international colleagues have been critical. These relationships are highly valued and have contributed significantly to our successes.
Our membership of WFSA is fundamentally important to us and focuses on four main areas:
SASA has also collaborated with WFSA on the Zambian/ South African Health Systems Fellowship and the Pain Observership. These programmes strengthen national healthcare systems and save lives.
SASA’s participation in WFSA’s committees and projects strengthens our profession both nationally and internationally. For example, SASA were able to call on the WFSA to provide a global perspective to the World Medical Association’s revision of its Code of Medical Ethics, whilst SASA provided national revisions through the South African Medical Association. Consistent and globally coordinated collaborations such as these enable SASA to unite and calibrate its voice with other WFSA member societies, providing international legitimacy and weight to our national messaging.
The relationships established through WFSA and its Africa Regional Section are invaluable. WFSA’s networks assist us in enabling much-needed unification and connection with often isolated African countries, many of whom are without specialist care. For example, WFSA helps us to identify speakers from the continent and to contribute to each other’s Congresses. This has enhanced the quality, diversity and relevance of all of our events.
We believe it is vital that anaesthesia is central to the global health discourse and WFSA is our profession’s international voice. We believe WFSA is doing a tremendous job, far superseding what would be expected for our profession, relative to its representative size in healthcare.
WFSA’s advocacy efforts benefit the profession as a whole but particularly assist LMICs, whose healthcare systems, clinicians and patients are impacted by factors often well beyond the control of a national society alone. WFSA’s advocacy of anaesthesia at the international level has facilitated SASA’s work at the national and local levels.