Education and Training


Paediatric Endocrinology in Developing Countries

The Paediatric Endocrinology Training Centres for Africa (PETCA) programme

Following the budgetary surplus of the ESPE 2004 Annual Meeting in Basel, ESPE Council decided in January 2005 to form a charitable account for projects to support paediatric endocrinology in developing countries. A Steering Committee was appointed, consisting of Ze'ev Hochberg (coordinator), Martin Ritzen, Stefano Cianfarani and Paul Czernichow.

The first decision was to focus on Africa. A working program was developed that included teaching programs for paediatricians as the first phase. The first delegation of teachers went to Nigeria in October 2005.
Additional schools were planned for 2006, one in Nairobi for paediatricians from Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia and the other in Rabat, for colleagues from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Graduates of the schools were to receive continuous issues of Hormone Research that were donated by our members and shipped to Africa through the generosity of Karger AG. Each student was also to be tied with a volunteering European centre as part of our sister-departments program for educational material, discussion of cases and any help they may need.

The next phase was to train African fellows and the PETCA programme was established in Nairobi in 2008, courtesy of a grant from the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) and under the initial direction of Ze'ev Hochberg on behalf of ESPE and Sid Nesbitt on behalf of Gertrude’s Hospital where the programme is based. The WDF have continued their support with a second phase of funding and the programme is now supervised locally by a committee of local PETCA graduates, chaired by Tom Ngwiri with ESPE coordination by John Gregory. Students attend for a 6 month programme of tuition facilitated by clinics in 3 local hospitals. Thereafter they return to their home bases for 6 months during which a research project is undertaken before returning to Nairobi for a 3 month refresher course, culminating in an exit exam. By the end of 2012, 32 students from 9 sub-Saharan countries had graduated from the first 5 groups of trainees in the PETCA programme. Excitingly, a second PETCA in Lagos has been established in 2012 also with support from the WDF to cater specifically for the needs of West Africa. The PETCA in Lagos operates under the direction of Dr Abiola Oduwole and is supported by Nigerian graduates from the PETCA programme. For both PETCA schools, a steadily reducing level of external support is provided by visiting tutors from ESPE and ISPAD who teach for approximately 2 week periods during alternate months.

Graduates from the PETCA have now established the African Society for Paediatric & Adolescent Endocrinology which has an annual scientific meeting and is starting to develop paediatric endocrine services in sub–Saharan Africa including plans to initiate a pilot congenital hypothyroidism screening programme.

More than 50 members from ESPE and ISPAD have now contributed as visiting tutors to the two PETCA centres (Nairobi and Lagos, PETCWA). The centre in Nairobi is longer established and is currently applying to the University of Nairobi to have the paediatric curriculum of the PETCA course recognised as a University qualification. This is the appropriate step towards self–autonomy for the postgraduate training programme. Already, several projects undertaken by PETCA students have been accepted for publication and presented at the annual ESPE meeting. A further aim is to identify graduates of the PETCA course who would be suited for postgraduate research training in University centres of excellence, subject to identifying suitable funding.

Expressions of interest as Visiting Tutors for the Nairobi and Lagos centres are most welcome. Members should contact Ieuan Hughes (iah1000@cam.ac.uk) who has recently taken over from John Gregory as the Coordinator for the ESPE Africa Programme. A copy of a Curriculum Vitae together with a brief statement of interest, including any experience of working in a developing country, would be helpful.

Ieuan Hughes
Coordinator, ESPE Africa Programme