The Zomba Mental Health Link, formerly known as the Harrogate Zomba Hospital Link, was established following a visit to the Hospital in 1998 by Jennifer Travena, Senior Physiotherapist in Mental Health. The initial aim of the link was to fund raise and buy much needed equipment and bedding for this hospital.
The Zomba Mental Health Link, formerly known as the Harrogate Zomba Hospital Link, was established following a visit to the Hospital in 1998 by Jennifer Travena, a Senior Physiotherapist in Mental Health. The initial aim of the Link was to fund raise and buy much needed equipment and bedding for this hospital.
Zomba Mental Hospital is located in Malawi, in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of the poorest countries in the world; with a life-expectancy of around 41 years; compared with around 78 years in the UK. Learning from colleagues in nearby South Tees the link soon expanded to become an educational Link. The first two nurses from Zomba visited Harrogate in 1999; and the Harrogate group made contact with both THET (the Tropical Health and Education Trust) for guidance on developing the Link, and with the Department of Health Sciences, University of York, in order to expand the educational expertise.
Between 2000 and 2005, with the aid of a grant organised by THET, there was an exchange visit each year. A programme of training for both trained and untrained staff was undertaken at each visit to Zomba and visiting staff from Zomba to Harrogate had the opportunity to experience many aspects of the mental health services provided by the PCT; and to meet staff at all levels.
In 2007, thanks to a successful bid to the joint BMA/RCN Humanitarian fund, a 10 day educational visit to Zomba was achieved in October and a small project to raise awareness of mental health issues in the community and to improve mental health knowledge and skills in staff in rural health centres was undertaken. This pilot project led to the development of a more substantive education and practice development initiative to enhance the mental health support capacity of village-based health workers (HSAs). This two-year project has been funded through the International Health Links Funding Scheme and The British Council and is a part of the Malawi Ministry of Health’s plan to increase its community mental health resource. The intervention involves curriculum development, delivery of the course to over 300 HSAs and an evaluation of impact. The project is due to report in April 2012.
The Zomba Mental Health Link became a registered charity in 2007 and, with the reorganisation of mental health services in North Yorkshire and Harrogate in June 2011, the Link has been warmly adopted by the mental health services at the Tees and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust. We look forward to widening Trust participation in the Link and continuing to work in partnership with colleagues in Malawi to assist with the development of mental health care at Zomba and its surrounding districts.
Wright, J. Common, S. Kauye, F. & Chiwandira, C. (2013). Integrating community mental health within primary care in southern Malawi: A pilot educational intervention to enhance the role of health surveillance assistants. International Journal of Social Psychiatry.
Mr Jerome Wright
Department of Health Sciences
Alcuin College, University of York,
Tel: 01904 321685
Dr Felix Kauye
Director of Mental Health Services
Zomba Mental Hospital
PO Box 38