With no end in sight for the COVID travel bans, it was suggested at the last DAISI board meeting that we organise some ZOOM sessions aimed at supporting our South-Pacific colleagues.


The idea was to provide expert advice where requested & required, and educational support to the trainess in surgery, gynaecology and anesthetics. These three specialties were chosen, as to date this is where DAISI has mostly focused its attention.

Eighteen ZOOM webinars are now scheduled to occur this year in specialty areas of anaesthetics, gynaecology and general surgery.

The first successful general surgery ZOOM session on the topic “hernias” took place on 23rd March 2021, with only a few hitches, mostly technical from my end, with surgical registrars and participants from PNG, Vanuatu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands. A mixture of trainees and consultants turned up, with a number of current clinical cases presented, leading to interesting discussion and debate. This opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas was what we intended, and overall I was very happy that we had achieved this goal. The knowledge transfer was defininitely not unidirectional, with all of us on the Australian panel blown away by the wit & resourcefulness of our South Pacific colleagues. Some novel techniques for repairing hernias, when mesh is simply not available, where presented by Dr Elvis Japhlet from Sopas in the remote PNG highlands, and Mike Buin from Western Province of Solomon Islands.

The first gynaecological ZOOM session is scheduled for 20th April 2021 being jointly organised by Dr Leeanne Panisi (director of obstetrics and gynaecological services in the Solomon Islands) and the first anaesthetic ZOOM session is scheduled for 25th April 2021, and is being coordinated by anaesthetist Dr Jessica Lim from Sydney in consultation with the head of National Referral Hospital (NRH) department of anaesthetics Dr Kaeni Agiomea.

In coming up with the idea, it was felt that the ZOOM sessions should be an opportunity for DAISI to show support to specialists and their trainees.  Vitally important is the need for these sessions to represent a supportive environment for dynamic case discussion and that they not be didactic “sermons” or lectures or drab PowerPoint presentations: a multitude of which can be found on youtube!  It was also agreed that these ZOOM sessions should include a specialist panel representing the field being discussed (e.g. surgery, anaesthetics and gynaecology) from both the South Pacific and Australia and New Zealand, with equal representation. It was important that we avoid any actual or perceived paternalistic neocolonialistic approach and, to put it crudely, that we not be guilty of “teaching grandmother how to suck eggs”. If the first session is any indication, this was achieved with the Australian panelists probably learning more from this session than their South Pacific colleagues!
The first session on 24th March involved specialists Drs Basil Leodoro (Vanuatu), Elvis Japhlet and Kennedy James (PNG), Mike Buin (Solomon Islands), Gary McKay & Prof Christophe Berney (from Australia).

Day light savings created confusion with the start time with apologies from late attendees Dr Ako Millan, Sameul Kejuel and Kabiri Tun (Tungaru, Kiribati) Dr Debra Smith (Brisbane), and Dr Isaiah Borchem, Rodger Ikasa, Ian Umo and Dominic Inaido (Alotau, PNG) pictured above.

Now that day light savings are over, the start time will be less confusing, and clear instructions will be given of exact start times with Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) being one hour behind Solomon Islands & Vanuatu, and two hours behind Kiribati.

Surgical sessions will continue monthly the last Tuesday of each month 5-6pm (AEST). Gynaecology sessions will be the second last Tuesday of the month 5-6pm (AEST) every 3 months and anaesthetic ZOOM sessions will occur on every three months on either a Sunday or Tuesday (still undecided) and more frequently if sufficient interest warrants it.  

The original idea of having break out sessions at the end of the ZOOM sessions to allow one-on-one discussion and mentorship was good in theory, but in practice not possible due to limited ZOOM access in some cases with multiple trainees logging on together. This is something we can rethink or tweak as we become more familiar with the sessions, and as I, a self-confessed Luddite, grapple with the technical aspects of ZOOM!

Finally, in the spirit of inclusivity, if you or anyone you know would like to be on the invite list and is not already, please contact me, preferably on WhatsApp. +61 411 248 910 or email me contactdaisitoday@gmail.com


Author Dr Gary McKay is a general & colorectal surgeon from Sydney.  He is the founder of DAISI and the current elected Secretary.