Jan 8, 2019

Volunteers from the Villages

Volunteer Community Health Workers
Volunteer Community Health Workers

Training New Volunteers

Over the past three months we have begun to train 15 brand new Community Health Workers. Nurses from the villages around the three Rural Health Centres had been involved in identifying suitable volunteers.

Their first residential training week was held at the start of November in Livingstone with 15 participants travelling from outlying villages to participate in the training. On Call Africa's volunteer doctors led the training, alongside the nurses from the local rural health centres.

Training Curriculum

The training workshops comprised full day sessions on three areas of clinical concern

  • Serious illness
  • Respiratory disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease

The resources and methods used during each day have been previously trailed and tested in our context. Manuals and training materials were printed for the individual participants. The CHW training sessions used a variety of approaches: including group lectures, discussion groups, visual aids and videos.

Initial assessment of progress was made through face-to-face techniques including workplace based assessment and multi-choice tests. This first training week provided the opportunity to collect some baseline data on CHW knowledge and rate of progress in acquiring knowledge and skills.

Next Steps

During the next three months we will assess how many of those commencing training should continue through to the second residential training week. The new CHWS will be supported in assisting patients in their communities, with the support of the nurses from the RHCs and On Call Africa’s team of volunteers and gradually given increased responsibilities. Their second residential training week is booked for the end of March 2019: Sessions will comprise: musculoskeletal problems; malaria; and nutrition. This will be followed by further residential training weeks in June 2019 and October 2019.

One of our volunteer doctors teaching some CHWs
One of our volunteer doctors teaching some CHWs
Residential training in Livingstone
Residential training in Livingstone
Learning vital skills and knowledge
Learning vital skills and knowledge
Oct 15, 2018

"Mashale Kabotu" (Stay Well)

When someone’s unwell we try to help them get better. But once their health improves we want them to stay well. So our plans for the next two years include a project called ‘Mashale Kabotu’ – ‘Stay Well’ in the Tonga language.

Mashale Kabotu (Stay Well) aims to improve access to healthcare in two districts (Zimba and Kazungula) in Zambia’s Southern Province. The project is based on three central pillars:

1. Treating –qualified international volunteer doctors provide primary health care services in rural communities alongside local nurses from Rural Health Centres (RHCs);

2. Teaching – qualified doctors facilitate health education in rural communities in conjunction with local health authorities to allow people to take control over their own health outcomes;

3. Training – delivery of a specially developed and locally customised training programme for Community Health Workers, with the goal of supporting them to be an effective first point of contact for their communities’ health needs fully embedded within the support structure of nurses from local RHCs.

These three activities are integrated and will be delivered in parallel. Community Health Workers will shadow qualified doctors during patient consultations and will be trained to deliver community health messages. Underpinning the model is the principle of supporting and strengthening existing rural health systems and the staff at Rural and District level, building effectiveness and resilience. This requires that we support local workers, including nurses and Community Health Workers. It's all summed up in our 'theory of change' (which you can see in the chart below)

The ultimate aim of Mashale Kabotu is that people living in rural communities in southern Zambia wil lead happier, healthier lives.

Treating Patients at a Rural Health Post
Treating Patients at a Rural Health Post

Jul 19, 2018

Valuing Volunteers

Valuable Volunteers
Valuable Volunteers

At On Call Africa we really value our volunteers.

Our work is made possible by the amazing people who volunteer with On Call Africa combined with the generosity of wonderful donors who enable them to be resourced to do their job. Every year around 30 volunteers from Zambia and further afield offer their time and skills to help improve access to healthcare in some remote rural villages.

Community health workers from each village consistently offer health advice to local people. They’ve been trained in how to spot signs of serious illness, so they can help people to seek early intervention and treatment. They also assist patients with basic wound management and treating monor ailments. And perhaps most importantly, they pass on important health messages to women and children about staying healthy though good hygiene.

To enable this vital work to continued and strengthen On Call Africa is now recruiting ten more community health volunteers whom we will be training over the next 18 months. The training will be delivered through five residential training weeks in Livingstone. In between these training weeks the community volunteers are given further personalised training and mentoring within their villages. This is delivered by the volunteer doctors, who form part of On Call Africa’s team, working alongside nurses from local rural health centres and colleagues from Livingstone Hospital.

International volunteer doctors form a key element of our work to strengthen local health provision. They are able to provide medical expertise, consultation, treatment and prescription to assist the district health authorities in reaching villages in their catchments with their entitlement to monthly outreach clinics. They report into the district health authorities so that our work is embedded within the existing local systems. We’re delighted that we have a full team of volunteer doctors signed up through to next August.

Over the last 40 months 100 volunteers from Zambia and abroad have volunteered with On Call Africa. It’s almost impossible to quantify the value of what they’ve brought. Suffice to say that if we had to pay for their services our budget would need to be 10 times greater than it is!

Which means that every donation you’ve given has its impact magnified by 10 times.

That’s the value of volunteers.

Community Volunteers
Community Volunteers
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