Monday, 9 October 2017

Bridget's account

A group of Friends of Chitambo Hospital recently visited Chitambo. Scottish members were: Jo Vallis, chairperson, Julie Davidson, patron, and her daughter, Catherine, Alison Smart, lecturer in nursing studies at Napier University, and Bridget Innes a semi-retired GP. Zambian partners were Consider Mudenda, in-country co-ordinator; Levi Chifwaila, former senior nurse lecturer at Chitambo School of Nursing, now at Kabwe; and Emma Ndalameta Theo, a medical librarian from the University of Zambia.

The main aims were to attend a first aid workshop aimed mainly for ambulance drivers and front line clinical staff, and to check on the new radios in the rural health clinics without mobile phone connection. We left Lusaka with a heavily loaded vehicle, picking Emma up, en route. Consider ably drove the long journey to Chitambo. 

Julie Davidson, FoCH Patron, with Catherine (L), Alison R) and Levi (behind)
L to R, Consider, Jo, Alison, Levi, and Julie

The main aims were to attend a first aid workshop aimed mainly for ambulance drivers and front line clinical staff, and to check on the new radios in the rural health clinics without mobile phone connection. We left Lusaka with a heavily loaded vehicle, picking Emma up, en route. Consider ably drove the long journey to Chitambo. 

Loading up for the journey to Chitambo

Chitambo Hospital 2017

The 3 day First Aid Workshop was run by Levi. The talks were given by Levi, members of Chitambo’s clinical team, a surgeon from the trauma unit at Kabwe hospital, Alison and Emma. Chitambo has recently been supplied with two new fully equipped ambulances; the drivers had not been shown how to use the equipment, and we keen to learn. There was also time to speak to other members of staff to discuss future developments. A doctor and technician from the Flying Doctor service visited to discuss the new radios, which they had supplied, and suggestions for further equipment.

Some of us also took the opportunity to visit some of the distant clinics. Consider checked the radios, and Emma introduced the staff to tablets which have heen downloaded with clinical information. 

Consider one of the new emergency radios supplied by FoCH

Emma demonstrates use of a tablet pc

We were pleased to see that the Life Wrap treatment for post partum bleeding, supplied by FoCH, were in the clinics. One of these clinics is over 100km from the hospital, the last 16km being along a single track causeway through swamp. Fortunately it was fairly dry at this time of year, but in the rainy season it is sometimes submerged and the journey for ambulances is very difficult. The clinic serves a population of almost 7,000, but currently is staffed by only a newly qualified nurse and a health care assistant, with the help of volunteer community health workers. Two women were in labour during our visit. In another clinic, close to the village where David Livingstone died, there were no lights as the new staff did not know how to obtain bulbs for the solar lights.

Remote Rural Health Clinic

Motorbike ambulance in use at the above clinic

Ambulance driver and simulated patient

Children served by the above clinic

The team made a lot of useful new contacts and have ideas to take forward to help communication and emergency treatment in the Chitambo district.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Chitambo visit September 2017: Jo's account

Scottish and Zambian partners had  great week at Chitambo Hospital, central Zambia, from 4th to 8th September 2017.  The First Aid workshop, designed and delivered by Levi, went very well.  The 10 participants included ambulance drivers and other frontline emergency care staff.  Facilitators included a top trauma surgeon from the provincial capital, Kabwe and a nurse lecturer/FoCH volunteer from Napier University, Scotland.  The programme was wide ranging including principles of first aid; ABC (airway, breathing, circulation); wound management; blood loss and shock; fractures; burns; poisoning; chocking and much more.  Classroom sessions were  followed by practical demonstrations including simulated exercises based on specific emergency scenarios (road traffic accidents).  

Feedback was good with the majority saying that the training had improved their ability to respond to emergencies and that they would like longer training in the future, with more practical sessions.

Post-workshop team line up
Clinical Officer demonstrares

Experienced ambulance drivers look on intently
Ambulance drivers get hands on experience

A willing 'victim'

Please see our photo and video galleries for some more images of the training in progress: Click here for the photo gallery

We also had great meetings about other aspects of our project on strengthening emergency care communications in the area.  Leaders of  Zambian Flying Doctor Service (ZFDS) traveled all the way from the Copper Belt especially to meet us and discuss potential for collaboration on developing a Central Province emergency care response system based on digital radio communications.  They say that this is the Zambian policy direction for emergency care and Chitambo District is leading the way..   ZFDS has other stakeholders who would be interested in partnering on grant bids.  Discussions with the head of the Kabwe trauma service suggested similar interest in collaboration on grant bids.

Jo with leaders of teh Zambian Flying Dctor Service (ZFDS) 

Top Zambian trauma surgeon teaching on the First Aid course

Other highlights of the visit included a trip to N'Kundalila Falls and Kalwa farm where 6 Moffats are buried (descendants of David Livingstones wife Mary's family). Livingstone's nephew, Malcolm Moffat, was founder of Chitambo Hospital. 

Beautiful Kundalila

Kundalila pool

Malcolm Moffat, founder of Chitambo Hospital 

Moffat graves at Kalwa

Jo and Bridget also had a chance to visit the Bangwelu swamps where Livingstone died. They took a day excursion from Kasanka National Park to see the famous Shoebills.....a most amazing prehistoric-looking bird which nests in the swamps. The visit involved setting off from Gibson, one of Chitambos remotest clinics, firstly in a boat punted through the swamps and then on foot, wading waist deep in these malarial swamps. We were rewarded with Shoebills but also much more....the beauty if the swamps, the strength and character of the people, and insights on alternative uses of impregnated mosquito make fishing nets! Surprising in this most malarial area but perhaps putting food in the belly simply takes priority over malaria prevention?
Punting through teh Bangwelu wetlands

Creative use of impregnated mosquito nets

Trecking to see the Shoebills
The Shoebill tour started at Gibson, Chitambo District's most remote Rural Health  Clinic.   Jo and Bridget called to pay their respects to clinic staff and saw the new very High Frequency (VHF) digital radio, supplied by our project, in action.

They also saw the  motorbike ambulance used by the clinic to collect patients from surrounding villages.

Motorbike ambulance

Whilst in Lusaka, our team had had the good fortune to meet and dine with the Secretary General of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).  . She is a remarkable Zambian lady with a PhD on women in leadership within the church. Modern missionary, Ida, made the introduction. Ida is the Health Secretary for the UCZ and her husband, Keith is Education Secretary. Both do a huge amount of health and education work around Zambia, including at remote Mbereshi Mission in Luapula Province. Our team traveled there as Julie is researching for a book about Mabel Shaw, founder of the girls school there. Ida met us there, showed us around the hospital and school and hosted us with a very welcome lunch. Later we visited the magnificent Tumbachushi Falls and enjoyed a wonderful swim.

TumbaChushi Falls, Kawambwa, Luapula Province

Jo's dad had served as a doctor at Mbereshi Hospital for a short spell, n the late 1960s, and she was able to identify the house they had stayed in, now in ruins but recognisable.

Consider drove us very competently all the way to Kawambwa, near Mbereshi, and back and we can't thank him enough for our safe travels

AGM 2017

Please join us for our Friends of Chitambo AGM.
When?: Saturday 14th October 2017, 11am to 1pm UK time ( 12 to 2 pm Zambia time), to hear about our recent visit to Chitambo and other progress over the past year.
Where?: The Community Room, Penicuik Library, Carlops Road, PENICUIK, MIDLOTHIAN, SCOTLAND EH26 9PE:…/penicuik_library/1252/find_us
Here is a link to the agenda and meeting papers:…/fo…/0B6Xci-Qh9PixM09ObEg1R3pMY0E…
Skype access may be available. Please email Jo Vallis, Chair ( if you are interested in this option and we will try to link you.
Thank you to all who have given support over the year. You are making a very big difference.