A new Safety in Health Simulation Centre has been opened at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

This is a first for the African continent.

Health professionals will now be able to practice medical procedures and emergencies under simulated conditions. The project is a partnership between a medical technology company and UCT.

The centre is set to revolutionise the training of specialists and other health professionals throughout the continent.

Nurses and doctors not only hone their skills and learn new ones but protect themselves from contracting contagious deseases while assisting patients.

Dr. Zolelwa Sifumba contracted MDR tuberculosis (TB) in her fifth year as a medical student.

She says facilities like this are vital.

“Their health and safety is a priority which for me I think is amazing and it’s going to tell them, look, everything is sheltered now. But when you go out into the big bad world a lot of these systems won’t exist and we are working together to try and make it possible that it exists here, that you’re trained with those things so that when you do go out in the world you advocate for the things you see here.”

Another major issue is the possibility of needle pricks.

Safety mechanisms and procedures, and knowing them by heart, is crucial for medical staff. The facility will enhance this and future methods of training and procedure.

Dr. Rachel Weiss, Director UCT Clinical Skills Centre says: “The idea is that we work a lot closer with nurses, the trainers of the nursing staff, so these are the clinical facilitators at Groote Schuur and then of course with nursing management as well as quality assurance and that we start to map out the agendas of or the priorities for each of these groups around this agenda of safety.”

A holistic approach will be followed and will include cleaning staff and porters.

The centre will be linked to centres across the continent when fully operational and will provide medical practitioners exposure to cutting-edge procedural techniques using the simulation of a real world operating environment.