Monday, 28 August 2017

Operation book covering

Through our Scottish Government funded Small Grant project on 'strengthening emergency care communications in Chitambo District' we have purchased 40 new emergency care books from Teaching Aids at Low Cost (TALC):
The books are for an emergency care resource centre at Chitambo Hospital and its 12 Rural Health Clinics.

They include:
  • Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care
  • Medecin Sans Frontier Clinical Guideines
  • The British National (Drug) Formulary  
3 'hard to reach' clinics, in the Bangwelu Swamps, which do not have internet connectivity, will also receive tablet pcs with emergency care downloads (First Aid app etc), so that, despite their isolation,  staff have access to best emergency care evidence.

To ensure durability of the books, we obtained slip over dust covers.

Here are some photos of the books and our Trustee, Margaret (a retired teacher),  helping to apply the covers.

A Penicuik GP also donated 3 quite recent drug formularies to boost our stocks.  These are like gold and we can't thank her enough for the kind gesture.

A very successful fundraising event

The Summer Street Fair took place on Saturday 26th August, in the Friernds of Chitambo (FoCH) stronghold, Penicuik, Scotland..

Running the stall was  a particular challenge this year  as some of us are off to Chitambo, Zambia, on 31st August

Even so, with all hands on deck, the effort paid off , with bumper takings, almost double our usual average.  Congratulations to the team and particular thanks to our new young volunteers, Jenny, Alison and Catherine whose persuasive selling powers are most impressive.

5 team members (Jo, Lou, Catriona, Jenny and Alison) are from health service backgrounds and 3 (Catriona, Jenny and Alison) are currently in high flying health service roles.  Catriona is an Organisational Development Lead in  and Edinburgh Special Healthboard; Jenny is training as an  Advanced Nurse Practitioner, in Critical Care; and Alison is a Nurse Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University.  We are highly privileged to have them all on board.

We were also privileged to have help from Catherine, daughter of our charity Patron, Julie Davidson. With much experience in the field of retail, Catherine has great business sense and sold a lot of raffle tickets.  Her mother, Julie,  is an author and journalist and wrote the acclaimed book 'Looking for Mrs. Livingstone'.  This is about David Livingstone's wife, Mary Moffat, whose nephew Malcolm Moffat, founded Chitambo Hospital in 1908.

Catherine and Alison are joining the group which is travelling to Chitambo on Thursday 31st August. The other travelers include Julie, Jo (FoCH Chair)  and FoCH member Bridget who is a Scottish doctor with extensive experience of medical volunteering in Zambia and South Africa.

Thanks also to Street Fair stalwarts Margaret and Gillian, who provided much produce and guided the novice helpers in the art of fundraising. We could not do without you or without the help of Jo's husband  Richard who, despite his 'bionic' (artificial) leg, is always there to help with transporting the team, cheering us on and  proffering tea and coffee.

Thank you too to Consider and his wife Pharren, in Zambia, who supplied the beads, shirts, and beautiful sandals, all hand made by Pharren, in Zambia.  These attracted much interest and sales.

Also thanks to  our Trustees, Ba Chola and Ba Loveness, in Chesterfield, England.  Chola is a Lala gentleman, from Chitambo and, as such, is a tremendous asses to the charity.


Proceeds are likely to go towards our student nurse scholarships.  More on that soon.

See our Street Fair photo gallery:
Lou and Jenny (wo)man the sandal, beads, and home baking stall

Catherine and Alison pose with the 2017 Penicuik King and Queen 

Jenny takes charge of the garden produce

What a team!

See this relevant TED Talk: No one should die because they live too far from a doctor

Check out this recent TED talk, which seems of real relevance to places like Chitambo District:
Raj Panjabi: No one should die because they live too far from a doctor

This is why the First Aid workshop which Chitambo partners are running for ambulance drivers, and other frontline emergency care staff (5th to 7th September), is so valuable.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Hallelujah, job well done!

True to their word, the Zambian Flying doctor Service (ZFDS) has installed the 4 Motorola Very High Frequency (VHF) digital radios purchased for the Chitambo emergency care communications project.  They have been installed  at 3 'hardest to reach' clinics, where there is no mobile phone connectivity, and at a 4th clinic which can relay emergency messages to Chitambo Hospital.
We are very grateful to ZFDS for their efficient service.  This should save lives.

The next step is to monitor the number of radio calls and their outcomes, to gauge effectiveness.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Friends of Chitambo Street Fair stall advertised

Friends of Chitambo Trustee, Margaret, posted this article in the Penicuk newsletter, the Town Crier:

" Friends of Chitanbo are having a stall at the (Penicuik, Scotland) Street Fair on 26th August.  We continue to support the hospital and surrounding area in Zambia.  Five professionals, members of Friends, are going to meet Zambian partners and work with them training ambulance drivers in first aid.  They will see the progress made with the 'mini NHS24' (emergency response) service for which we received a grant from Holyrood.  This is a very necessary service  for outlying clinics of which one is 125 miles from the hospital."

Well said Ba Margaret.  As a retired teacher, your writing skills shine through.  Natotela sana mukwai (thank you) for your ongoing support.

Staunch Street Fair supporter Margaret 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

'Old' Friends treated to Chitambo hospitality

Due to the miracle of technology, news has been reaching us, here in Scotland,  of the traditional Chitambo hospitality offered to 2 'old' friends, Ron and Andrew Swanson.  Their Dad, Ron Swanson Senior, built the original student nurse hostel at Chitambo, which is still in use today.  Ron and Andrew lived at Chitambo as children.

They have just returned from a historic revisit and have been beaming back pictures and video clips of the tumultuous welcome which only Chitambo people could give.

In Ron's words, it was 'a very special, humbling and inspiring' experience and they particularly enjoyed the church service and meeting the only surviving person who had worked with their Dad.

Twatotela saana mukwai (thank you very much) to all at Chitambo for looking after  Ron and Andrew so well.

Penicuik Street fair stall: Saturday 26th August 2017

It's that time again and luckily we have all hands on deck to help with this annual fundraising event which takes place just a few days before some FoCH members travel to Zambia for the project monitoring and evaluation   visit and First Aid workshop.

A very big thank you to the following local Penicuik businesses for their generous donations of raffle prizes for this and previous events:

  • Enhance Beauty:
  • The Best Seller:
  • Giovani's Italian Bistro:
  • Castle Waerhouse:
Thank you, too, to FoCH Trustees Margaret and Gillian for negotiating these donations with the local shopkeepers and to all FoCH members and wider friends who are also helping with donations of goods, items, baking, and their precious time.

You are all making a real difference on the ground at Chitambo. 

Chola and Loveness are staunch supporters but are too far away to contribute directly.  However, they are planning a stall for this year's Zambian Independence Celebrations in the Midlands.  They are even thinking of designing a FoCH banner of their own, for local use.  

Last year the couple raised a whopping £300 on their stall and this went to purchasing 5 solar lights for use at remote Rural Health Clinics.  As nurses with extensive experience of the pressures of running remote Zambian health clinics, they know how important it is to have access to electricity.  On a recent visit to Chitambo District, they witnessed that nurses were having to sue the light of mobile phones to deliver babies.

Thank you to Chola and Loveness for your dedication to helping Chola's home community of Chitambo.  You too are making a huge difference.

Emergency radios and shortcode number for health

News just in from the Zambian Flying Doctor Service (ZFDS) is that the 4 Motorola Very High Frequency (VHF) radios which FoCH purchased with Scottish Government funds and private donations have arrived from South Africa.  They are for Chitambo Hospital and 3 'hardest to reach' Rural Health Clinics (RHC) and will be installed during the the week beginning 14th August 2017.

These clinics, in the remote Bangwelu Swamps area..incidentally the area where Scottish 'hero' David Livingstone died...have no mobile phone or internet connectivity and multiple delays in contacting Chitambo Hospital can cost lives.

During the September monitoring and evaluation visit, the project team hopes to be able to assess how these radios are bedding down  and what difference they are making.

Friends of Chitambo (FoCH) is, in communication with local health leads, also sponsoring an emergency shortcode for health.  This will give all Chitambo District citizens and others free mobile phone access to emergency help and advice.

Purchasing a 4-digit number for 1 year costs in the region of £3,000 and FoCH will do this with a very generous donation from the Twigger family in America, who have also contributed to emergency radio purchases.

Purchasing the 4-digit shortcode number is an interim measure until the Zambian Ministry of Health and mobile phone providers manage to launch the free national shortcode number, 992.   Delays are due to needing to include all emergency services (ambulance, fire, and police), some of which are under-developed and will take time to prepare for inclusion in this initiative.

Please see our online donations button if you can help with this life-saving work

First Aid training for ambulance drivers and frontline emergency care staff

In September 2017, a UK delegation will join Zambian partners on a visit to Chitambo for the purposes of monitoring and evaluating the emergency are project and contributing to delivery of a unique First Aid course to Chitambo District ambulance drivers and other front line emergency care staff.

Levi, a Senior Nurse Lecturer in Central Province, Zambia, is leading this course.  Levi has extensive experience as Charge Nurse and Senior Lecturer at Chitambo and he has long stated the need to train the 5 local ambulance drivers in basic First Aid.

These drivers are highly experienced and dedicated to helping local people in case of emergency.  However, some First Aid training will really save lives by enabling them to respond more efficiently and effectively to emergencies such as bleeding in pregnancy, road traffic accidents, burns, choking, snake bites etc.

This is vital in this vast rural area where distances are great, roads bad, and multiple delays in reaching hospital cost lives.

Thank you to Levi for this great work.  He has enlisted the help of a local surgeon to deliver the trauma aspects of the course.  Click here to see the programme

Alison, a young Scottish Nurse Lecturer is accompanying the delegation to Chitambo and, as a trained First Aid trainer she will contribute, with other course facilitators, to delivery of the programme.  Although she is well traveled, this will be her first time in Africa.

Friends of Chitambo (FoCH) contributes to ambulance maintenance.

Please see our on line donations button if you think you can help with this life-saving aspect.

FoCH presents at the International Convention of Medical Librarians (ICLM) Conference 2017, Dublin, Ireland

Whilst in Europe, Consider, In-country Project Coordinator for our Scottish Government sponsored Small Grant project on 'Strengthening emergency care communications in Chitambo District, Central Zambia', presented the following poster at the ICLM conference in Dublin, Ireland:Click here for the poster

Consider applied to attend this conference whilst presenting a previous poster, on behalf of the project, at the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) conference in Uganda in 2016.  His abstract, produced in record time to an impossible deadline, was accepted and the project enabled him to not only to disseminate important project information at the conference but also extend his own personal experience in rich and fulfilling ways.

The conference theme was 'Diversity in Practice' and there was much interest in Consider's poster.  He networked widely, including with 2 other Zambian delegates, and remains in touch with medical librarians and information scientists around the world.

Enjoying a  glass of Guinness in Dublin
Back in Scotland, Consider also paid a visit to Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, where he is studying for a distance Masters in Strategic Planning.  Here he met fellow Zambians students who were attending for their graduation ceremony.  What a great incentive for Consider.

Consider with fellow Zambian students

Consider at his university
Consider's university believes in keeping fees low

Africa to Scotland

June was a very busy month for Friends of Chitambo (FoCH), with visits to the UK and Ireland by 2 African partners, Consider and Blessing.  This was in relation to our Scottish Government sponsored project on 'Strengthening emergency communications in Chitambo District'.  In April 2017, we received a second round of funding for this work and are forging ahead with related developments.

Please see the following link for a summary of progress:Click here for the summary report

Whilst in Europe, Blessing, who is Knowledge Broker Development Manager for the project, worked with NHSScotland Knowledge colleagues on developing the Knowledge Broker role. Knowledge Brokers are library and information scientist who help health staff to translate (access and use) vital information into action at the frontline.

Consider, who is In-country Project Coordinator, complemented the Knowledge Broker work by downloading 5 apps/pdfs to 3 new Lenovo Yoga tablet pcs purchased for teh project.  These are for use at Chitambo's 3 'hardest to reach' Rural Health Clinics (RHC), where there is no mobile phone or internet connectivity.  The downloads include:

  • Medscape: 
  • ZeroMothers Die:
  • British Red Cross First Aid (general and child): 
  • Dynamed: 
  • Zambian national Formulary: 
We also purchased 40 new emergency care print books from teaching Aids at Low Cost:

These include:

  • Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care (16 copies, one per 12 Chitambo District Rural Heath Centre plus some to spare for the resource centre)
  • Medicnes Sans Frontier (MSF) Clinical Guidelines (12 copies, 1 per 12 RHC)
  • British National Formulary (BNF) (12 copies, 1 per 12 RHC)
The books will be carried to Zambia in September 2017 when a UK delegation travels to Chitambo for the purposes of project monitoring/evaluation and a 3-day First Aid Workshop for ambulance drivers and front line emergency care staff, which is being organised by Chitambo partner, Levi, a Senior Nurse Lecturer.

Despite the busy Scottish visit schedule, there was some time for soem socialising and FoCH Trustees Chola and Loveness paid a visit to Penicuik, Scotland, to meet up with Consider.  Chola and Loveness are nurses in the Midlands of England.  However, Chola is a Lala gentleman, and is from Chitambo.  This makes him a real asset to FoCH as  he has close contacts on the ground at Chitambo and can advise on all local matters.
(L to R: Chola and Consider enjoying nshima in Penicuik Scotland)

Loveness and Chola in Penicuik: Whata fine couple they are

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

See our new logo

We have a fine new logo designed by Friends of Chitambo member, Consider, who is a computer specialist based in Lusaka, Zambia. Thank you Consider!

How I have benefited from a Friends of Chitambo Nurse Training Scholarship

Here's an extract from a letter from one of 'our' Scholarship students:

                                                                                         Chitambo School of Nursing

                                                                                         April 2017

How I knew about Friends of Chitambo and how I have benefited

I came to know about the Friends of Chitambo and the scholarships they offer through our group tutor.  I am half orphan.  My father is dead and we are being looked after by Mum who is a full time housewife.  I have challenges paying my school fees because the money Dad left is not enough to sustain I and my siblings.  So at one time my mother was called to school because of the financial situation I was having and upon hearing her cries my group tutor decided that I be included in the scholarship that Friends of Chitambo was offering.

The sponsorship has really relieved me of the anguish of paying school fees.  It was quite demoralising every semester when time for paying school fees was mentioned.  At one time I even thought of stopping school because I thought I was going nowhere.  But thanks be to God through the Friends of Chitambo who came to my rescue.  Now I see a light at the end of the tunnel,

Thank you Friends of Chitambo for giving me hope.  It's my prayer that you may do for others what you have done for me. AMEN.


Friends of Chitambo supports 2 student nurses through their 3-year Registered Nurse training at any one time.  Bwalya and Mary,the other student we are currently supporting, are in their final year.  We are in discussion with Chitambo colleagues about selecting a further 2 students once they graduate in 2018.

Training a student nurse costs around 21,000 Zambian Kwachas (£1,7986) in total for the 3 year training (around £596/year), although this changes from year to year as costs increase.

See our online donation button on this blog if you think you can help.

Here is a list of items which the costs cover: