What we do

“The 2019 drought and resulting famine put extreme pressure on families and communities to meet the basic needs of their families. Poor access to water saw a sharp increase in the number of cases of diarrhoea. Poor nutrition leads to reduced resilience when faced with diarrhoea, particularly in young children. In order to address these challenges in the long term our team focused their health promotion programmes on nutrition, hygiene and clean drinking water”.

Ben Margetts, Director On Call Africa

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We work in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Rural Health Facilities, volunteer Doctors from the UK, and delivery partners to support the development of strong and effective rural health systems in Southern Province, Zambia. We also work with Rural Health Facilities that have been identified by the Ministry of Health as being in need of capacity building and support. With these Rural Health Facilities we map their catchment area, carry out in depth assessments of health facility needs, and the needs of their communities, and use these to work with the health facility staff to develop detailed quality improvement and implementation plans to improve access to and quality of healthcare. Once in place we work with the Ministry of Health, and our partners to deliver identified programmes of work.

We work with these health facilities and our partners to deliver 3 main areas of work:

  1.  Provide improved and equitable access to healthcare
  2.  Strengthen rural health systems
  3.  Improve health behaviours
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It is important to On Call Africa that we focus our limited resources on providing quality holistic support to communities and health systems that are in most need of support. However, we also work closely with the Ministry of Health at national level to support policy and guideline developments to improve rural health outcomes beyond the reach of our direct delivery. We aim to openly share all our resources, impact data and learning to support wider policy, and to promote shared learning between partners.

1. Provide improved and equitable access to healthcare in remote communities

On Call Africa place volunteer doctors in Rural Health Facilities and embed them in the communities that they are serving during their placement with us. The volunteers carry out structured placements that are based on one of four phases of work: assessment and planning; delivery; monitoring, evaluation and learning; or handover. Volunteers work in partnership with Rural Health Facility staff to facilitate rather than replace existing service provision, and use this direct engagement to inform our programme design and delivery. Volunteer doctors deliver services in a way that is designed to build capacity, in a time limited way, to ensure the sustainability of improved access. These placements are used as an opportunity to train and support the development of Community Health Workers, who act as the first point of contact for their communities. We aim to build sustainable long term improved and equitable access to healthcare by improving transport links both from and to Rural Health Facilities for staff visiting communities for monthly outreach, and for patients who need to visit.

2. Strengthen rural health systems

Community Health Workers are trained to work within the existing health system to improve access to healthcare and to increase the capacity of Rural Health Centres. Helping to respond to health needs of sparsely populated catchment areas. We also work with then, and District Health Offices (DHOs), to identify capacity building needs and delivered tailored programmes to respond to these needs with the help of skilled partners. These include access to solar power, improved medical facilities, training of health workers, improved water and sanitation, improved data systems and access to telemedicine.

At national level, we work with the Ministry of Health to support the development of national policies and guidelines that enhance the rural health system at scale.

As a part of our efforts to strengthen rural healthcare systems in Zambia, we provide a training programme to enable Community Health Workers to provide healthcare services to their communities. Components of the training programme include on-clinic training, where the Community Health Workers shadow volunteer doctors and assist with running community clinics. The Community Health Workers also assist at the rural health centre as a part of their training.

3. Improve health behaviours

Extensive research is carried out through household surveys, by reviewing clinical data, and through community consultation to identify the biggest health concerns in each community. On Call Africa uses this information to develop tailored health promotion programmes; helping to improve health literacy and access to amenities that promote health. In order to achieve this we work in partnership with government departments to support and enhance existing programmes, or work with NGO partners with relevant expertise, to ensure that interventions are delivered to a high standard. Our current public health interventions focus on water, sanitation, hygiene, menstrual health, and nutrition.

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Partnerships with local health authorities are made to identify the biggest public health concerns and support government led interventions such as COVID19 community senistisation.

If you’d like to volunteer your expertise we’d love to work with you. Visit our volunteer page to learn more about how you can help.