Meet the health workers who make our work possible!
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University of Sheffield-Bayero University Kano-Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital partnership
Dr. Zainab Yunusa-Kaltungo, is a plastic surgeon, the Chairman of the medical advisory committee (CMAC) and Clinical Governance lead of the project at the Federal Teaching Hospital (FTH), Gombe in north-east Nigeria.
“The partnership, which began in 2015, aims at improving patients’ safety and quality of health care in tertiary hospitals in northern Nigeria. The partnership has trained over 214 health workers from community health workers to theatre technicians.
Four volunteers from the NHS visited to assess need and train local health workers on patient safety. The project initially aimed to train 35 health workers, but the team decided to expand to 70 to efficiently respond to patients’ demand at the hospital. The hospital now has a robust Multidisciplinary Patient Safety Team (MPST), conducting surveys of the patient safety culture in the hospital, and there is hospital wide awareness of what constitutes patient safety and incident reporting.
Though the project has been very successful, we’ve had a few challenges including the raging Boko haram insurgency that severely disrupted the planned sessions of the training because of newly identified terrorist hotspots.
The THET project is the first health partnership I have been a part of and it’s been an exciting journey that has continued even after the project officially closed in February 2017”.
Community Health Worker (CHW)
Standing next to the primary health unit in Hayeti village, the vast barren desert sprawled out behind her, Koos describes the time the village was struck down with cholera, “there were no supplies, and vaccination services were not reaching the village. Seeing this difficult situation and the people suffering, I wanted to help.”
Koos was selected by her village elders to participate in a nine month Community Health Worker training course, which will give her the skills and knowledge needed to provide essential primary healthcare. “I was born in Hayeti, I wanted to help my people in the village because I know they have been suffering.
We are learning how to care for the mothers when they give birth at home in the rural areas, and also to care for children, both under 5 years’ old and older ones. We are also learning how to manage and raise awareness on outbreaks and other disease related issues.’
Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland-The College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa Health Partnership.
“My name is Mesale Solomon and I am a 2nd year surgical resident at Black Lion Hospital.
I received anastomosis training, which was a very interesting opportunity. Anastomosis is one of the toughest things that I expect to do as a surgeon.
There is limited equipment and resources but we have to make do with what is available. For example I have really small hands so the gloves do not fit me; we do not have different sizes, but that is my job. You have to adjust, it makes you creative.
As a surgeon you are with the patient throughout the whole process. You are there to diagnose them, treat them and care for them. You form a relationship with them which is very rewarding for me. Medicine is more than just books; you need skills so you can follow patients through the whole journey until they are cured.
I am excited for the future because I am going back to Aksum to work as a general surgeon. They are building a new hospital there and I am looking forward to working in a brand new environment. It will be good to treat patients who do not have to travel 100 kilometres to Addis to be treated. We will really be able to make a difference. I am excited to be part of a brand new organised surgical department.”
The NHS Glasgow and Clyde Health Board partnership- Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) Partnership
The project aims at reducing mortality and morbidity in burns and scald injuries in children. The partnership has trained over sixty-two nurses and clinical officers. Ziphilly was one of those to receive training in burns care and management skills
“Out of a passion for caring for the sick I developed an interest in pursuing a medical course, with a focus on nursing. After graduating from the University of Malawi, Kamuzu College of Nursing in 2015, I was assigned by the chief nursing officer to various departments, including the burns unit. Due to the nature of the roles at this unit, treating patients with burns on a daily basis, many nurses shun being deployed there. But in my case, I did not have that problem, my family have had awful experiences with burns, with one of my nephews dying due to them and another one surviving despite being burnt severely.
Through the partnership, I have had many opportunities to learn more about burns management. Thanks to the training, we have tremendously improved the care of patients with a reduction of mortality rates of burns patients from 24% before the training, to 12% after the training.
Following my training Malawi, I was asked to help with the practical sessions of the Accra Burns Project in Ghana, as part of another partnership between the Great Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust. My stay in Ghana was great! I want to be a role-model to fellow nurses so that they can start to view burns as an equally important field of medical practice.
I now envision doing a Master’s degree in line with burns management as a springboard for a PhD. “
University of Edinburgh-African Palliative Care Association Partnership
The University of Edinburgh together with the African Palliative Care Association is training health workers in palliative care in four countries in Africa.
“I have been working here at the Univeristy Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) since 2008. I became a midwife because I like the profession and want to help women who are suffering. It is challenging because we don’t always have the tools that we need and there are gaps in the provision of clinical services that our department provides. I took part in palliative care training.
The training helped me to appreciate how people with chronic disease need palliative care. Before, I didn’t look at individuals with chronic conditions from a holistic point of view.
I remember this woman who was HIV positive with cervical cancer. When she was diagnosed, she refused to acknowledge her condition on many occasions. When the palliative care team came, they provided psychological support, they worked to understand her diagnosis, to lead her to acknowledge her condition. They counselled her with coping strategies and she was discharged home with her family there to support her.
UK-Cambodia - GP
Dr. Gardner volunteered with Improving Global Health (IGH) to support project work in rural Cambodia. Partnered with the Maddox-Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP), IGH deploys long-term volunteers to work with Cambodian health workers to better healthcare and improve training.
“I’m a newly qualified GP working as a locum around Dorset and Hampshire at the moment. I also work in Accidents & Emergency in a couple of sites as well. It’s a great job. I wanted to push myself and learn skills outside the clinical roles where I would be able to bring back and apply to my job in the UK.
The project I work on is looking at household air pollution and the healthcare burdens that are rising from cooking solid fuels indoors. In Samlot, 99% of the cooks here are women. It empowers women to do something to change their own healthcare and that of their children. It has a very direct link to the environment, and it’s the cutting down of trees and the provision of solid fuels that’s driving this healthcare problem and we need to attack both at the same time.
Working within the healthcare department of MJP would be impossible without the help of our Cambodian colleagues within the healthcare team. I see extraordinary leadership skills amongst these people and I think that they are the real drivers in this community in getting these projects set up. They command an enormous respect from the local population here…. And I think that without them, nothing would ever be achieved here.”
Click here to view a video of Dr Gardner
‘My name is Julie Tiakoru and I come from Arua. I am Lubara by tribe. I went to primary school in Masinde district until my father died and our family moved to Arua town. It was hard after my father died, my mother worked as a housemaid and we helped earn income by digging gardens.
I was determined, from when I was a child to be a nurse and started training to be one in 1980.
Soon after, we were forced to flee to the Congo by the local conflict. We stayed there a year and my training was interrupted. When we came back, I moved to Entebbe to complete my training. Soon afterwards I was married and moved back to Arua to work as a nurse.
Over the years, I have worked in different places and gained many different qualifications. I am a registered degree nurse and a registered midwife, an intensive care nurse, a paediatric counsellor and a clinical instructor.
I was the first girl from our region to be educated. I persisted although it was not easy. But I started a trend in my family as my two brothers are a nurse and a clinical officer and my two children are working as a doctor and a clinical officer.
I took the ETAT+ training and learned the techniques to triage sick patients, how to identify who should be seen first and how to assess them quickly. It is really beneficial because it has changed the culture of following the queue of waiting patients to recognising and prioritising the sick’.
“I have been in post at Kambia District Hospital since August 2012. I attended the IHLFS training course in November 2012. It was a unique opportunity for me since in Kambia no further training is provided to midwives once they are qualified.
In Sierra Leone women do not like to deliver at the hospital. They prefer to deliver at home, but things go wrong and they seek care too late. This then makes our job too difficult to save them. One woman had just arrived here at the maternity ward. She came to the hospital with a fever, but we found that she had a ruptured uterus. If she had come to us sooner it would have been easier for us to help her, and the outcome might have been more positive. But we lost her.”
Biomedical Engineer Technician (BMET)
Received a Diploma in Biomedical Engineering Technology at NORTEC, Ndola (Supported by THET).
“I chose to do a Biomedical Engineer Technician (BMET) Diploma because I love engineering and the combination of that with the medical side is very interesting. It is difficult being a BMET especially because in the hospital, when the first machine breaks down staff just put it aside, and the same thing happens when the second one breaks, finally when the last one breaks down they will bring it to us and say ‘fix this’ we don’t have anything to use now. So I feel a lot of pressure but the training has really helped and now I feel as if I help to save lives.
I have been working at Chongwe District Hospital as part of the Medical Equipment Uptime Project for almost six months now. I took an inventory when I started and found 120 items of equipment here but once I begun to show staff I could fix equipment, more broken equipment began to appear (equipment that had previously been hidden or locked away during the inventory).
I remember discovering that there was only one suction machine used for all the operations in the hospital, of course this is a huge risk as when this the patients airways cannot be cleared of fluid during the operation causing patients to suffer further. After seeing that the broken suction machines had very simple problems like damaged power cables or connections I fixed them and made sure that every ward had one.
I was also able to keep oxygen concentrators, which two patients depended on, running while the power grid was switched off for the connection of solar back-up (for about 30 mins).
At the beginning of the Project the hospital had just 73% of equipment working now we have 90% working. Within the project, I also hear about what happens in the other project hospitals, and learn how to be more effective, especially with who to report issues to, and how to work with hospital administration.
Looking to the future I would love to gain higher qualifications in electronics, after all if you improve on that, you can research problems better than just the troubleshooting. It would also be great to move to a bigger hospital, of course it’s nice when you know it’s only you, but in a bigger hospital you get to have more experience and more exposure – the bigger the better.”
Mental Health Nurse
Bournemouth University – Tribhuvan University
In Nepal, people with mental health problems are highly stigmatized. As part of the partnership, a series of workshops were organised to provide mental health training for maternity care providers, a much neglected area.
Ms. Kusha Thapa, an Auxiliary Nurse/Midwife (ANM), completed her ANM course in 2012. She then worked as a volunteer in a district hospital, where she had the opportunity to sharpen her knowledge and skills.
“More than half of the women did not have any pregnancy check-ups and nearly 80% of births used to occur at home…. Women were anaemic and did not seek any care from the health facility. Even if they did, the facilities were closed for many days or run by unskilled staff.
When I came here, people had less trust in the health post. Many women in the area were deprived of health information and services. I started to work in the out-reach clinics and the birthing center, and people started to come to me for help with any and all health problems!
In the past one year, I received training on mental health from Bournemouth University-Tribhuvan University partnership, funded by THET. I realised women have many mental health issues, which they do not express and we were unable to recognize before the training.”
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