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Mar 16, 2020

Health education to prevent the spread of disease

The World Health Organisation has categorised Zambia as one of the high risk areas for Coronavirus (COVID-19), due to high levels of tourism and the low capacity of the health system to deal with an outbreak of the virus. While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Zambia to date, we recognise that this does represent a big risk to the communities we work in, and the nation as a whole. We also know from extensive research carried out in the areas that we work that there is poor access to handwashing faclities, and limited understanding of when and how handwashing should be carried out.

In February and March, alongside our usual clinical activity, we have placed an increased focus on health education around handwashing, recognising the symptoms of coronavirus, and limiting travel to Livingstone to avoid the spread of the virus if it comes to Coronavirus. Our aim is to prepare communities and limit risk should COVID-19 reach Zambia. In addition to providing health education about handwashing, we have also provided handwashing facilities and soap at key locations, such as schools, churches, health posts and key meeting points to ensure that communities have the facilities to put their learning into practice.

Improving handwashing will also go a long way to reducing the spread of communicable diseases in the communities, and will help to tackle the rising number of cases of Diarrhoea that we have been seeing since the drought started in Zambia in 2019. Our health education sessions have been fun and interactive, particularly in schools where our volunteer doctors have been setting students handwashing challenges, competitions and races, as well as using songs to help enforce key messages in an interactive way.

"Thank you  for visiting and donating the hand basins to the school.  We really appreciate for they will help avert pending tropical diseases among our pupils in the school. Thank you for the health talk you gave and the demostration of your and love. God bless you. We hope to see more of you."
Esther, Simonga Primary School Headteacher.
Dec 18, 2019

Look to the future now, it's only just begun

As the year draws to an end we would like to send out a huge thank you to all of you who have volunteered, advised, supported and donated to our work over the last year. Many thousands of patients living in the villages have benefited in so many ways from your commitment and contribution.

There are exciting plans ahead for our work in Zambia next year. Next year we’ll be extending On Call Africa’s services to many more communities. We have plans to further increase the impact of the work within the existing communities with whom we work. We’ve had important discussions with the local health authorities about how we can develop our training and help strengthen health systems.

We recently received this message from someone who’s been supporting the work of the charity for almost five years:

“It’s been great to see the work in Southern Province develop during 2019. The vision of the charity continues to be truly inspirational, and it’s been remarkable to witness the selfless commitment and generosity of volunteer doctors and community health workers and the dedication of the trustees and staff. It’s also enormously exciting and fulfilling to see how the charity is now poised for even more exciting times ahead.”

Thank you all for your support and encouragment.

Have a Happy Christmas and a Good New Year.

The On Call Africa Team

Sep 24, 2019

Strengthening health systems

On Call Africa aims to  improve access to healthcare in rural Zambia. We work to strengthen and augment, rather than replace, the capacity of existing health services. We do this in three ways: Treating, Teaching and Training.

During the last 3 months we have placed a particular emphasis on the training element of our work, which is key to building capacity and ensuring that our work has a sustainable impact, and brings long term change for the communities that we work in.

On Call Africa aims to achieve a system of sustainable healthcare in the areas we work in by increasing the capacity of community health workers (CHWs) to attend to the health needs of their village. Our volunteers train CHWs directly and help to make sure they are motivated to perform their role effectively, as well as working to improve their access to essential medicines and to better integrate their role with existing health services. 

We recently completed our mid term review with 14 CHW's who are currently undergoing training. During the review training was delivered over the course of a week by On Call Africa volunteer doctors in partnership with nurses from the Rural Health Centers that our CHW's represent. During the week we held lectures, and ran interatcitve workshops and focus groups on: serious illness, gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory disease, and malaria with a focus on how to identify and diagnose conditions, and how to determine whether the patients can be treated locally, or whether they need to be referred to their Rural Health Centers, or the District Hospital.

In addition to covering these key topics, the CHW's were also trained on delivering key health education messages relating to nutrition, clean water and malaria with the aim of reducing the prevalence of diseases and illness related to these areas.

We are delighted to report that our cohort of 14 CHW's are all progressing well with their training, and we cannot thank our supporters enough for supporting our work and enabling us to embed high quality CHW's into the existing health systems, ensuring that our work will have a long term and sustainable impact in Southern Zambia.

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