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The Spanish Ambassador to Bolivia inaugurated the training programme on organ donation as part of end-of-life care

The ONT and AECID join forces to train Latin American doctors in organ donation

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Spain's close relationship with Latin America helps to transfer this knowledge and boost donation and transplant programmes. On this occasion, thanks to the collaboration between the ONT and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, through the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and its Knowledge Transfer, Exchange and Management Plan for the Development of Spanish Cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean (Intercoonecta Plan).

This Plan aims to contribute to generating capacities in institutions and social actors involved in human development in the Latin American and Caribbean region and with the capacity to develop and implement public policies aimed at achieving greater social cohesion. Within the framework of the Intercoonecta Plan, a training programme on organ donation as part of end-of-life care was inaugurated yesterday, aimed at medical professionals in critical care units (intensive care doctors, anaesthesiologists, and emergency medicine doctors) in Latin America. The event was attended by the Spanish Ambassador to Bolivia, Javier Gassó, due to the particular relevance of this initiative for the country. The training activity was organised by the ONT in collaboration with the Aula Vall d'Hebrón and coordinated by the Spanish Cooperation Training Centre in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia. The programme lasts eight weeks and will be conducted virtually due to the current pandemic.

The call for participants on this course was very well received. The ONT received more than 600 applications - mostly from intensive care doctors - for the 200 places on offer. Thanks to this programme, it will be possible to train medical professionals from 17 different countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).

As the Director General of the ONT, Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, remarked, "one of the basic pillars of the Spanish Model is the involvement of intensive care doctors, who believe that donation must form an integral part of end-of-life care in our country. Not only because of the patients on the transplant waiting list, who are of course the very reason for donation, but also because of the importance of taking the values of each person into consideration in making end-of-life decisions. This paradigm shift is the basis of the training action being promoted with this course.

Saving lives outside Spain

Data from the World Transplant Registry - managed by the ONT as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre - confirm the importance of hospital transplant coordinators and the involvement of professionals from critical care units in the donation process; both key elements of the Spanish Model. Its implementation in Latin American countries has contributed to the steady increase in donations and transplants in the region. Since collaboration in this field began between Spain and Latin America in 2005 with the creation of the Ibero-American Network/Council for Donation and Transplant (RCIDT), chaired by the ONT, activity has doubled in the region. Nevertheless, in 2019 Latin America reached a rate of 10.3 donors per million people (m.p.p.) and carried out 18,195 transplants; figures that indicate the need to intensify efforts to increase this type of therapy.

The work of the RCIDT has led to key changes in legislation, organisation and the commitment of health authorities to improve donation and transplant systems in Latin America.

In addition, through the Alianza Programme, led by the ONT, nearly 500 professionals from Latin America have been trained as transplant coordinators in hospitals in all the Regional Governments since 2005. These professionals have successfully transferred the Spanish Model to their own countries, in a manner adapted to how they operate. They are now joined by another 200 professionals under the Intercoonecta Plan, a new Spanish contribution in this field that will save thousands of lives beyond our borders.

This training also contributes to the development of the Strategy and Plan of Action on Donation and Equitable Access to Organ, Tissue and Cell Transplants (2019-2030) that was approved at the 57th Directing Council, 71st Session of the Regional Committee of WHO for the Americas. The overall objective of this strategy is to expand opportunities for patients in need of transplants in this region in light of the growing demand for this therapeutic option.

Non official translation