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Dec 31, 2014

Working to build sustainable healthcare

Providing on the spot medical care in remote areas
Providing on the spot medical care in remote areas

Over the past 3 years, On Call Africa has focused on bringing healthcare to where it is needed most. It’s operation is based on three pillars. The first uses mobile clinics to take healthcare directly to nine isolated communities in rural Zambia. The second focuses on health education, as prevention really is always better than cure. The third involves working to strengthen existing healthcare systems, including training local health workers and ensuring they are properly equipped to care for the immediate health needs of their community.

To date, On Call Africa volunteers have treated in excess of 25,000 patients, many whom had never previously met a doctor. We are proud to be recognised by the Zambian Ministry of Health as a provider of essential medical services in Zambian’s Southern province.

It is imperative in this work that On Call Africa is well integrated into existing services and works alongside, supporting rather than replacing current healthcare providers.

Collaboration with the Kazungula District Medical Office and partnering with medical staff from local rural health centres ensures our partners are able to engage more frequently with the populations they serve.

Over the past 3 years, together with these partners, On Call Africa has ensured that hundreds of children received a full programme of immunisations, enabled access to HIV testing and counseling, provided women with the opportunity to access family planning services and distributed thousands of male and female condoms.

Access to clean drinking water and malaria have continued to dominate our health education discussions. We have therefore linked with other NGO’s operating in Zambia which has allowed us to deliver water purification treatments and mosquito nets to those who need them most. We hope by establishing further links with locally based charities, that we will also be able to introduce bore holes in some of our most remote areas of operation.

Over the second half of this year, our focus has been on organisational longevity. A temporary break in mobile clinics has allowed On Call Africa to take steps towards expanding the organisation. Thanks to the overwhelming support of Rotary clubs throughout Scotland, as well as in Zambia, On Call Africa is now in a position to buy a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser ambulance. The ambulance will be fully equipped to transport essential medicines and equipment out to remote villages and allow the transport of critically unwell patients from these isolated areas to their nearest hospital. The health worker training programme is in its final stage of development and will be rolled out in 2015 across all nine areas, aiming to provide comprehensive training to eighteen community health workers. Finally, to ensure On Call Africa can sustain these advances, the position of On Call Africa UK coordinator has been created and we hope to have the position filled by the end of January 2015.

As 2014 draws to a close, we would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all of our volunteers and supporters, old and new. We are humbled by your generosity. It is only with your kindness, hard work and the belief in what we do, that we are able to continue this work. 

Everyone at On Call Africa wishes you a very happy and healthy New Year.

 

 

Community health education in rural schools
Community health education in rural schools
Under 5 clinic run by local health centre staff
Under 5 clinic run by local health centre staff
The journey out to clinic can be challenging!
The journey out to clinic can be challenging!
Aug 29, 2014

Integrating with Local Health Workers

Child Weight Monitoring in Mapatizya
Child Weight Monitoring in Mapatizya

As well as providing on the spot medical care and health education for communities in Zambia who live in difficult to access areas, On Call Africa also hopes to create a system of sustainable health care by providing training to local health workers.

The ‘community health worker’ (CHW) is an individual chosen by the local community and trained to deal with basic health problems and work in close relation to wider health services. On Call Africa works closely with local Community Health Workers (CHW’s) during monthly mobile medical clinics. CHW’s ensure their community is made aware of the free medical services available, run a child weight monitoring program during clinic days and provide translation services for international medical professionals who work on our clinics.

During On Call Africa’s pilot project in 2011, On Call Africa identified the degree of training, resources and support that existed for CHW’s. Due to the remote locations of these CHW’s, updates in training and provision of basic medical supplies were lacking. On Call held monthly training sessions for CHW’s focusing on topics such as recognising ill health, manage of wounds and basic first aid. To ensure CHW’s were able to become active in their communities, they were also provided with basic first aid and wound management kits. After years of having to walk up to 30 km to reach their nearest health facility, patients who developed ill health had a local point of contact to discuss and even receive basic treatment for their ill health. CHW’s are motivated to improve the health of their communities and have requested further training.

On Call Africa has used the experience of working closely with Community Health Workers to develop a more comprehensive CHW training program, offering training to 18 individuals over a 24-month period. Training will include theory sessions, practical on the job experience and work-based assessments. Launching in 2015, On Call Africa hopes that this program can be replicated in other areas to ensure that rural areas in Zambia have continuous, high quality health care, as close to the family as possible.

CHW, Conista, translating for Dr. Carloine
CHW, Conista, translating for Dr. Carloine
May 28, 2014

Providing Crucial Care to Mothers and Newborns!

Women in rural Zambia face a great challenge in receiving care for pregnancies.  UNICEF reports that 53% of women in Zambia deliver from home, due to the great distances they live from the nearest health post.  Only 47% of births in Zambia are attended by a skilled health worker.

During our last few months of outreach On Call Africa has seen on average 50 expecting mothers a week.  Antenatal services are crucial to keeping both mothers and children healthy; before, during, and after childbirth.  In addition to inaccessible healthcare and a lack of sanitary facilities, Zambian women have additional concerns during their pregnancies. Most mothers in the US and UK do not have to worry about contracting malaria or drinking safe water.  OCA’s doctors and local volunteers advise women on how to stay healthy, getting nutrition, and protect themselves and their children simultaneous to providing a full check-up for mother and baby, giving necessary vitamins and testing for HIV.  Our Under-5 clinics have been packed with our doctors seeing between 90-100 infants and children each trip into the bush.  The children are all weighed to monitor and chart their growth; and are treated for worms, diarrhea & other common ailments while being vaccinated against disease.

On Call was lucky enough to have a Nicky Luescher, a trained Midwife from the UK volunteer with us on clinics this past year.  Nicky accounts “ Clinics were busy…I saw some interesting cases including having to tell a 44 year old woman who was on her eleventh pregnancy that she was now pregnant with twins!  On the same day I saw a 15-year-old girl who was pregnant for the first time and tested HIV positive.  She looked completely shell-shocked and I think it will take a long time before it sinks in properly.  On the plus side if she hadn’t have been pregnant she may not have been tested for many years and she can now start treatment early and hopefully prevent transmission to her baby.”

According to the Central Statistics Office of Zambia one in every nine children in Zambia dies before his or her fifth birthday.  It is crucial for mothers and children to receive medical attention and health education from the beginning to set them on the right track to healthy living.  Our team continues to bring these services to the families of Simango, Katapazi and Mapatizya thanks to your on-going support.

 
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