In rural Southern Zambia many people lack access to basic healthcare, and there is little education available on health promotion in remote communities. A large and geographically dispersed population means only half of Zambians living in rural areas have medical facilities within 5km, and poor roads and a long rainy season make these few facilitates even harder to reach. A national healthcare workforce crisis means that there is only one doctor for every 16,000 people, compared to one for every 600 in the UK.
On Call Africa improves access to healthcare in rural Zambia by strengthening local systems to sustain improved health outcomes. Our work is based on 3 central pillars: Strengthening rural health systems, health promotion, and delivering mobile medical services.
Strengthening rural health systems
On Call Africa works with Rural Health Centres (RHCs) in the Southern Province of Zambia to increase their capacity to meet local health needs. We work with each RHC to identify 3 remote rural communities that are not currently reached by health services. In each of these communities we: facilitate RHC service delivery at our mobile clinics; train Community Health Workers to work within and support the health system through a specially developed and locally customised training programme; and improve access to data so that RHCs and District Health Offices (DHOs) can respond to local need. We tailor our approach to meet the need of each community that we work in, and aim to deliver all of our programmes in a way that can be adopted and sustained by the local health system.
In order to bring about long term change within the communities that we work, On Call Africa addresses the root causes of health concerns in each community. After initial assessments into the most prevalent health concerns, and the underlying, causes we develop a tailored health promotion plan for each community which includes; education on healthy behaviours, and tailored programmes developed with partners with relevant expertise to improve access to services and provisions that promote health. This could include access to clean drinking water, or a tailored programme to tackle malaria, malnutrition, poverty, mental health challenges or gender based violence.
Delivering mobile medical services
In each of the communities that we work we deliver mobile health clinics, run by overseas volunteer doctors. These clinics help to provide vital treatment and access to medicines for communities who currently have very limited access to healthcare, while also playing a key role in building capacity of the local health system. Volunteer doctors provide Community Health Workers with on clinic learning, supervision and mentoring that plays a vital role in capacity building and health system strengthening in the long term.