Surgeons in Africa are to benefit from a donation  of a high-tech mobile surgical skills unit by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) which will be used for training and up-skilling.

The 30-tonne tractor trailer unit, housing a specially designed classroom and equipment, will leave for Tanzania later this month.

The equipment on board includes surgical training technology, like virtual reality simulators as well as an e-learning system, and can accommodate ten trainees at a time.

The unit had previously been used by RCSI over the past decade to train surgeons around Ireland.

However, the college says improvements in the road network coupled with changes in the way it delivers training mean it no longer needs the rig.

Instead, the unit is to be handed over for use by the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA).

It will be based in Arusha in Tanzania, but as well as training surgeons there, it will also move around to hospitals in neighbouring countries like Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

The need for surgical training facilities in that region of Africa is high, with the ratio of surgeons to members of the population currently standing at 1 to 200,000 compared to 1 to 11,000 here in Ireland.

In total there are just 1,400 surgeons across the ten countries in the region, servicing a population of 250 million.

It is estimated that 11% of the global disease burden is due to conditions which can be treated by surgery.

The donation is the result of an ongoing collaboration between RCSI, COSECSA and Irish Aid, which began in 2007.

Irish Aid has already donated €2.2m since then, with RCSI giving contribution "in-kind" of €1.9m over the same period.