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May 19, 2017

Birthing Kits for Safer Deliveries

Distributing Birthing Kits
Distributing Birthing Kits

Our team had been busy helping distribute birthing kits – packs of sterile sheets, gloves and essential items to help mothers give birth in a clean, safe environment.

Recently, at one of the Rural Health Centres with whom our team works, an expectant mother attended an antenatal appointment and received a birthing kit. When the mother came to giving birth the river water had risen so high she was unable to cross to get to the Rural Health Centre. Fortunately, she had been shown what to do with the birthing kit so was able to give birth comfortably at home.

A few days later the water went down and the lady was able to cross the river with the newborn baby. The Rural Health Centre checked the baby and mother and both were doing very well and were healthy with no signs of infection. Being able to create a sterile environment was key to this mother being able to deliver with few complications.

Birthing kits are all distributed by On Call Africa’s team through the Rural Health Centres and their staff. Nurses and community health workers give pregnant mothers a birthing kit at their antenatal clinic appointment. The expectant mothers will take the kits home and keep them until it is time to give birth. The mothers return to the Rural Health Centre when it is time to give birth and must bring the birthing kits with them. These kits are then used throughout the delivery.

Pregnant women are meant to report to a health centre of hospital for their labour. However, when giving out birthing kits the nurses explain how to use them in case the mothers find themselves in a situation where they have to give birth at home with no health care and the only thing that is sterile is the birthing kit.

The nurses at the Rural Health Centre have all reported that they feel the birthing kits are encouraging women to attend their antenatal clinic appointments so that they can receive a birthing kit. Attendance at antenatal appointments has always been low which is unsafe for the baby and the mother. With the added incentive of receiving a birthing kit and then being able to go on and deliver in a health centre where they will not have to pay anything more women are seeking medical help during their pregnancy.

Swollen River Blocking Route to Health Centre
Swollen River Blocking Route to Health Centre
Feb 21, 2017

2016 in Review

One year on - one year old
One year on - one year old

Dear Friends of On Call Africa

Last year nearly 2,500 people told us that their visit to our clinic was they're first ever consultation with a doctor.

Meanwhile, one of the little children we care for is doing well. Twelve months previously, suffering from the effects of severe malnutrition, she had been saved from critical danger by the interventions of our team of Zambian and UK volunteers. Together they helped her back to health – just one of nearly 6,500 patient diagnoses and treatments last year, including over 2,000 children aged under 5 years.

In the last year 13 community health workers completed On Call Africa’s one-year training course. They travelled to Livingstone to participate in five residential training weeks, with each demonstrating improved knowledge and better competencies to allow them to be a more effective first point of call for their communities health needs.

21 doctors volunteered with On Call Africa during 2016. Travelling to Zambia these committed volunteers enable us to continue to increase access to healthcare in rural Zambia.  Supported by our Zambia team they made an immense contribution to our three key activities: treating, training, and teaching.

14 trusts and foundations generously funded the purchase of medicines, training resources, and our running costs in Zambia. A growing number of Friends of On Call Africa have continued to offer regular financial support, and our programme to develop community health worker-led healthcare has been awarded three year’s funding from the Scottish Government.

During 2016 the Trustees developed our three-year strategy, underpinned by the following values:

1.     Quality health care for all: Everyone is entitled to high-quality healthcare in their own community

2.     Community-led: Local communities should have ownership of health issues and health care

3.     Volunteerism: Volunteering is an effective way of making change happen

4.     Independence: Achieving our goals requires we retain our independence, responsiveness and transparency

The six strategic objectives for the period 2016-17 were agreed as follows:

1.     We will continue to develop and test a community-led model of health to maximise effectiveness

2.     We will seek to expand and deliver its model in other areas of Zambia’s Southern Province

3.     We will build strategic partnerships to address public health issues at the community level, and to influence issues practices and policies at other levels (district, province, national, global)

4.     We will increase local ownership and accountability to stakeholders

5.     We will add new skills and staff

6.     We will grow income streams and maintain healthy reserves

We are immensely grateful for all the support and participation from volunteers across the UK and Zambia during the past year, and look forward to continuing to work towards improving access to healthcare in southern Zambia during 2017.

Caring for families
Caring for families
The value and values of Community Health Workers
The value and values of Community Health Workers
Nov 28, 2016

Getting Better Together

Working with the local health services
Working with the local health services

Better Together

We can achieve some things alone but we believe it’s always better together. At On Call Africa we believe in the power of volunteers and healthcare professionals from Zambia and beyond working together to improve access to healthcare.

We recently spoke with several people who have worked alongside our teams over the past few months.

One nurse based at on of the Rural Health Centres in the area we work told us about her experiences of working with our volunteers: “It is good to work with On Call Africa. The CHWs that have been trained reduce the workload on me and decongest the RHCs because they are able to treat simple illnesses in their respective health posts. Some of the patients were actually dying right up there in their homes because of the distance they could not cover to come to the RHC to get medical attention. We are now able to reach each and every individual.”

A senior healthcare professional working in our target area agreed, explaining: “We as Zimba District, like Kazungula, are really benefiting from the partnership with On Call Africa. The help rendered aids reaching three areas - Pukuma, Chalimongela & Chikuyu - which are among our furthest catchment areas.“

Our partners and volunteers all emphasized that the three aspects of On Call Africa’s work are vital. Mobile clinics provide immediate treatment, but our health education programme and training of community health workers is vital in creating long-term improvements.

A volunteer doctor from the UK summed up the approach: “The exceptional benefit of working with On Call Africa is that doctors can help create something sustainable through education. The community health care workers all have a real eagerness and enthusiasm to learn.”

The training of local people to pass on key messages about health was seen to be life-saving by one of the local nurses: “Maternal health has been a challenge for some time. It's sad to see a woman dying who's giving birth due to the fact they didn't know about danger signs.  Now they have CHWs that live with them in their community who teach them and tell them about the danger signs.”

The senior healthcare professional underscored the same point: “We are glad to stress that we are getting a lot in the partnership; and, most importantly, for the sake of sustainability they mentor and train some of the Community Health Workers and volunteers who will help reach the community by quickly identifying severe conditions while all the more increasing health awareness in the community. This ultimately helps the District and the nation as a whole bring healthcare as close to families as possible."

On Call Africa is committed to working with partners to improve access to healthcare over the long term. Thanks to your support we are helping people to get better together.

Training local volunteers
Training local volunteers
Intra-organisational Partnership
Intra-organisational Partnership
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