This institutional Link grew out of an Asthma Link between Dr. John Britton, a physician in Nottingham City Hospital, and Dr. Haile in Jimma, which has been running since 1993.
The link thrived for several years, involved with projects including medical, nursing, physiotherapy, radiology, laboratory services, midwifery and obstetrics, as well as many hospital management and support systems. It was re-established in 2012, and is currently specialising in nursing, particularly critical care and paediatrics, anaesthetics, and laboratory services. We hope to increase our support to involve IT, and to increase in particular the nursing and medical support from other areas of the hospital.
The focus and objectives of the Link are based on needs and requirements identified by Jimma University Specialized Hospital. A fundamental principle of the Link is that it is responsive and not prescriptive – there is a dialogue to share views and priorities to help decide what is feasible and desirable, but the initiative is with Jimma University Hospital.
THET advocates that to be effective in building capacity in health systems Links need to be long-term. In addition, to develop health systems that are accessible to all and that are comprehensive in their scope, support needs to be given to all aspects of the system – clinical, training, support services, financial, administration, leadership and management.
We are currently aiming to have annual visits to Jimma from Nottingham, and over the next few years host colleagues from Jimma. In the meantime we would like to build up our use of IT to maintain dialogue.
NHS healthcare staff and our Nottingham University academic partners have the technical expertise to fill teaching gaps, advise on system design, teach health care teachers (so reducing dependency on direct teaching by UK staff), and build up research capacity. The benefits are mutual – Links not only inspire participating UK healthcare staff but develop their resourcefulness, adaptability, cross-cultural awareness and professional experience.
For UK staff, first-hand experience gives a deeper understanding of life in developing countries and of the possibilities for engagement and realistic action that will benefit both parties. When our Ethiopian partners visit the UK as part of the Link they also contribute to this knowledge and understanding. Links are incubators of solidarity between people and are a powerful means of cross-cultural understanding.
“The sustainability of the work is important and this Link has been here for the long haul. It is the heart and the commitment that matters, and people have been motivated to work for the betterment of life here. I hope that the link continues for many years to come.” Dr Damtew Woldemariam, previous President of Jimma University, Ethiopia