How and why did you get involved with On Call Africa?
I was hoping to undertake some global health work before I started specialty training, and a colleague recommended On Call Africa as she’d had a wonderful time volunteering previously.
When did you volunteer with them?
I started volunteering remotely in April 2020, and will be volunteering in Zambia from March 2021.
What was your role during your time of volunteering?
When volunteering remotely, I have been part of a working group for the development and improvement of the Community Health Worker (CHWs) training curriculum, and another working group for the development of protocols and guidelines for CHWs working during the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope to continue to focus on improving the CHW training experience while in Zambia.
When you are not volunteering, what do you do?
I’m a junior doctor, hoping to begin specialty training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2021.
You were involved in response to the Covid-19 protocols, tell me more…
We reviewed existing Zambian protocols and guidelines, along with examples from other African countries and from the WHO, with the aim of creating consistent documents which were easily applicable to the healthcare environments in Zambia. Our final guidelines were then sent to the Zambian government to be edited before publication. We hope that the documents will have a wide-reaching impact by addressing a number of issues related to Covid-19, such as risk assessment and safety, delivery of treatment of Covid-19, and maintenance of other essential healthcare services.
Can you tell me about other QI projects you’ve been involved in and how they will support improving healthcare in rural Zambia?
My main quality improvement focus has been the development of the CHW training curriculum and resources. We are working through each element of the training programme, reviewing existing materials and creating new resources as necessary. We plan to improve not only the materials for the delivery of training sessions, but also resources that the CHWs can take home with them and use throughout their career. We hope that this will mean better training and subsequent delivery of health services, and better professional and personal support for the CHWs working in rural communities.
How did you find the experience of the volunteer programme?
This has already been such a rewarding experience working with other improvement-orientated On Call Africa volunteers and employees, and Zambian officials. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on these projects and learning more about the CHW experience when I begin my volunteering in Zambia.
Would you recommend the programme and why?
I would definitely recommend the programme – all of the volunteers and employees are so kind and welcoming, and create a lovely team dynamic which I’ve really enjoyed. I really believe in On Call Africa’s mission and impact, and am looking forward to encouraging others to contribute their time whenever possible.
Your volunteering has been virtual but you plan to visit Zambia and continue supporting the programme this year. Why?
It was my intention to only volunteer in Zambia initially, but I loved the idea of starting my volunteer work much earlier than planned while still in the UK due to the availability of remote working groups. I think it will be very important for my quality improvement work to see the environment that the CHWs train and work in, in order to begin to understand the opportunities and barriers that they may face.
For those about to embark on the training programme or visit Zambia, do you have any recommendations?
Getting involved in quality improvement work is a great way to be introduced to the programme and other volunteers before heading out to Zambia, which I hope will smooth the transition so I can hit the ground running.
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