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Global Capacity Building: improving care in Uganda, South Africa and Zambia

17 May 2024


In the spring of 2024, under the Global Capacity Building (GCB) Programme, THET held stakeholder and grant meetings in South Africa and Zambia. The GCB programme, funded by NHS England, started in 2023 and is supporting Health Partnerships across Uganda, South Africa and Zambia to implement innovative 18-month (9-months for small grants) projects which respond to a country specific scoping focus. Unique to this grant is the involvement of NHS staff in volunteering (remotely or in person) to further promote global perspectives and global experience within the NHS workforce.

In South Africa, the team met with an implementing grant which aims to strengthen paediatric burns care through health worker training in the Cape Winelands. This grant is being implemented by a range of UK and South African partners including the Children Hospital Trust UK and South Africa, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, University of Cape Town and Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital. This focus is on increasing the knowledge and capacity of community health workers in care of children with burns in the Cape Winelands region by developing skills in managing burns in children via training and workshops.

In Zambia, where THET has been working since 2009, the GCB programme has two large grants under implementation. The first, a partnership with Birmingham City University and Levy Mwanawasa Medical University (LMMU) is building capacity in the integration of nutritionist led enhanced clinical nutrition in health and education facilities in Zambia. This new partnership, supported by the Ministry of Health, seeks to build nutrition capacity within 9 hospitals and 6 higher education institutions within the Lusaka province. The capacity building programme, involving volunteers from NHS England, will facilitate clinical teaching, pilot protocols, and allow for enhanced nutrition services all whilst raising the profile of nutritionists.

The second is the continuation of a long supported THET partnership between Global Anaesthesia Development Partnerships (GADP) and Society of Anaesthetists of Zambia which started in 2012. This specific GCB grant will focus on assessing the current landscape of anaesthesia provision across Zambia and grow links between physician and non-physician cadres. Currently there are only 60 anaesthetists for a population of 20.2 million, with capacity building activities involving up to 16 NHS volunteers.  The Zambia Ministry of health has made excellent regional progress including the National Surgical Obstetric Anaesthesia Plan (NSOAP), this grant will further the sensitisation and capacity of anaesthetists in Zambia.

Alongside the visits to grantees, THET held productive meetings with various charities, universities and institutions, including meetings with colleagues at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), WHO, and NHS Consortium and the Ministry of Health in Zambia. These meetings gave THET the opportunity to present the health partnership model and to understand the Health System Strengthening activities within South Africa and Zambia. THET is building reputation and networks within South Africa and is reviving some UK-Zambia partnerships.

Following the visit, several action points emerged for THET including the need for targeted support and collaboration:

  • Facilitating Partnerships: It became evident that institutions in Zambia face challenges in identifying UK health partners, which significantly impacts their ability to submit applications. Addressing this barrier by facilitating partnerships between Zambian and UK institutions could unlock opportunities for enhanced collaboration and resource sharing.
  • Training and Capacity Building: Another key takeaway was the necessity of providing training support to local partners, specifically focusing on proposal and budget writing skills. Strengthening these capacities is crucial for empowering local stakeholders to effectively articulate their project ideas and secure funding, ultimately fostering sustainable development within the healthcare sector. THET has some guidance on proposal writing here.
  • Encourage the use of PULSE Partnerships platform for networking and Knowledge Exchange. PULSE is a free online platform for Health Partnerships and allows interested individuals to discuss, share insights and collaborate. Members can tap into a wealth of collective expertise and experiences, fostering mutual learning and collaboration.

THET is thrilled to launch our second round of calls for small grants (up to £10,000) under the Global Capacity Building programme. If you are interested in establishing a health partnership or want to learn more about the GCB programme, please email grants@thet.org or visit the website page: Global Capacity Building Programme – THET.

This post was written by:

THET - Programmes Team


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