4 August 2020
Our ten-year partnership between Chipata Central Hospital and NHS Highland are delighted to receive a £5,000 Health Worker Award Fund (HWAF) grant from THET. Zambia currently has 1,632 cumulatively confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 30 fatalities. COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions in global supply chains, lowering commodity prices and causing economic losses in both developed and developing countries, with manufacturing operations around the world disrupted. With proactive containment measures, the loss of life and economic impact of the outbreak could be arrested.
Chipata Central Hospital engaged its partner, NHS Highland, to see how the two institutions could work together to learn from each other on the best way to handle COVID-19 to minimize its impact on the workforce as well as the communities it serves. The consultative approach was undertaken by lead partners from both countries by engaging Senior Managers on how the two teams could confront COVID-19 as a united front.
The call by THET provided the opportunity to apply for funding that could help in tackling some of the challenges and gaps identified through the partners shared experiences, with possible solutions being shared and implemented during the project, taking into consideration geographical locations and culture that might greatly contribute to how the outbreak is perceived.
The HWAF project awarded to Chipata Central Hospital aims to contribute to knowledge sharing on the best way to improve infection prevention practices and how to support the mental health and wellbeing of staff on the frontline of health care, as we try to balance routine health care and providing a service to COVID-19 patients, while minimizing exposure and transmission of the virus to the families of staff members and communities. The experiences of our UK partner with COVID-19 will provide a learning point for Chipata Central Hospital as we look to redesign the Outpatient Department in order to effectively observe social distancing. The collaboration enabled through the project will provide a learning experience not only for the immediate crisis but post COVID-19 and beyond. The multi-skilled partnership committee members will bring different expertise on board and thanks to the HWAF, we will see new collaborations opening up that will provide mutual benefits for the communities served by both partners.
Through the first virtual meetings, a lot was shared and learnt on the management of patients at community level on sharing information on the effects of COVID-19 with both the infected and the affected family members. In addition, our first meeting between partners, which included Public Health, Primary Care and Medical Physics representatives, enabled ideas and challenges to be openly discussed and appropriate resources to be shared. These meetings will be ongoing throughout our 6-month project and will include specific meetings to address mental health, PPE, training, and public health messages.
The project will also aim to minimize the potential exposure of communities with chronic conditions such as non-communicable diseases and ensure that individuals or groups who, due to their particular circumstances may be disadvantaged or vulnerable, have access to information on COVID-19. This will be provided through radio programmes throughout the life span of the project.
Mr. Zulu from the Public Health Department, Mr. Mwanza from the Mental Health Department and Mr. Mvula from the Infection Prevention Department at Chipata Central Hospital.