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AKU’s First International Simulation Conference: SIMPACT 2024

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The Aga Khan University held its first SIMPACT conference in Karachi (Pakistan) and Nairobi (Kenya) to improve healthcare education. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals came together to share ideas on simulation-based training. The conference offered workshops, talks, and even an escape room challenge to test medical skills. Over 600 people attended, and the event led to the creation of new networks for simulation in both regions. Read the article to learn more

The Aga Khan University Centre for Innovation in Medical Education (CIME) launched its first-ever international conference, SIMPACT 2024, in Karachi, Pakistan, and Nairobi, Kenya. SIMPACT 2024 brings together a diverse array of simulation professionals, including doctors, nurses, educators, researchers, engineers, students, experts, and industry leaders, to revolutionize healthcare education for a safer and more skilled future.

The conference, held from May 20 to 21, will serve as a dynamic platform fostering collaboration, innovation, and education. With a hybrid format blending in-person events at CIME in Karachi and Nairobi with virtual participation options, SIMPACT 2024 ensures global accessibility and inclusivity, drawing attendees from around the world.

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Dr Michael Moneypenny, Regional Director of CIME East Africa, expressed his excitement saying, “As we embarked on this pioneering journey with SIMPACT 2024, we were thrilled to bring together the brightest minds in healthcare and simulation-based education. This inaugural conference has marked a significant milestone for our region, and we were excited to explore new horizons and drive innovation that will transform the future of healthcare training and practice.”

Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, President and Vice-Chancellor of the Aga Khan University, officially opened SIMPACT 2024, praising the efforts of the CIME teams in organizing this groundbreaking event. “SIMPACT embodies the essence of simulation-based education, offering benefits such as enhanced patient safety, skill acquisition, team training, personalized learning, and fostering research and innovation. In the words of His Highness, The Aga Khan, ‘We must look to the future, seeking always to think creatively, to innovate, and to improve.’ These sentiments resonate deeply with CIME’s vision since its inception. With 14 workshops, 93 abstract submissions, and keynote addresses from leading figures, SIMPACT has drawn over 600+ attendees from Karachi and Nairobi, reinforcing the importance of simulation-based practice and charting a clear path forward.”

Day one’s highlights included the Joint Directors’ Session titled ‘Simulation 360’ transcending geographical boundaries with simultaneous sessions from Karachi and Nairobi. Building on the success of the 2023 Healthcare Simulation Week, SIMPACT introduced a highlight titled “Escape from Mars in 2087″. Designed by seasoned educators and technical specialists, this challenging environment puts healthcare professionals’ skills to the test, encouraging critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities. The conference also commenced with pre-conference hands-on workshops covering specialties such as Interprofessional Simulation, Laparoscopic Skills, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Cardiology, and Management of Dermatological Disorders in Primary Care, facilitated by renowned experts. It also includes discussions around research and publication essentials. 

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Dr Faisal Ismail, Regional Director of CIME South Asia, remarked, “SIMPACT 2024 is not just a conference; it’s a celebration of our collective commitment to excellence in simulation. For the first time in our region, we have created the first simulation network of the region – the Network for Simulation in Pakistan (NSP) – where educators, practitioners, and innovators can collaborate and inspire each other. Together, we will push the boundaries of what’s possible in healthcare and simulation-based education.”

Day two began with a welcome address by the Regional Director Dr. Michael Moneypenny followed by a video message from Dr Carl Amrhein, Provost​ & Vice President​​, Academic​, Aga Khan University, encouraging the participants to learn, collaborate and enjoy themselves. This was followed by a thought-provoking opening address by Associate Vice-Provost Gitonga M’Mbijjewe, who discussed the future of education and the use of new technologies, such as AI. He also made the participants consider what skills the future healthcare workforce will need to prioritise, including creativity and innovation. 

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This was followed by an immersive panel discussion on “Building Blocks for Successful Simulation Programs in Healthcare in LMICs” featured expert insights from Dr. Faisal Ismail, Dr. Michael Moneypenny, Dr. Yasmin Amasri, Dr. Naveed ur Rehman, Prof. Abrar Ashraf Ali, Ms. Rose Ahono Sikote, Dr. Adeel Khatri, Ms. Vongai Mlambo, Mr. Titus Guchu, and Dr. Karima Khalid. They shared best practices and strategies for overcoming challenges in these regions, highlighting the importance of culturally tailored training, sustainable solutions, integration into curricula, government support, technology, community engagement, and innovative approaches to training.

Participants explored the future of medical education with Dr. James M. Cooke, celebrated scholarly excellence at the Abstract Showcase, and enjoyed the grand award ceremony recognizing the winners for abstracts submission and escape room. 

The day concluded with a compelling speech by Dr. Anjum Halai, Vice-Provost for South Asia and the UK at Aga Khan University, during the closing ceremony. She emphasized the importance of continuous conversations around advancements in simulation-based education in healthcare. This was followed by the announcement of the Eastern Africa Simulation Network by Dr. Michael Moneypenny and the Network for Simulation in Pakistan (NSP) by Dr. Faisal Ismail. These initiatives mark a significant step towards creating a community of like-minded individuals within the simulation field. Students, healthcare professionals, educators, and engineers found inspiration and opportunities for collaboration, advancing healthcare standards globally.

SIMPACT 2024 is more than just a conference; it’s a catalyst for transformation in healthcare simulation. Attendees are poised to make meaningful contributions to patient care and safety, shaping a future where innovation, collaboration and education converge for a safer and more skilled healthcare landscape. 

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