Sustainable local healthcare in Zimbabwe (2016)
Professor Sunanda Ray pictured above with CPHCPZ colleagues
Books provided by the 2016 BMA Information Fund were used to develop course outlines and training content for a postgraduate training in Family Medicine in Zimbabwe.
The College of Primary Health Care Physicians in Zimbabwe (CPHCPZ), the nation's professional association for primary care doctors, applied to the fund requesting texts needed to set up the programme, which started training its first students in August 2017. Students on the training programme will use the books as their core course material.
Zimbabwe has a large rural population and most healthcare is delivered in district hospitals. The majority of medical staff there have only 2 years of post-qualification experience (equivalent to the foundation years in the UK).
'They have the least training to deal with the health needs of the majority of the population,' Professor Sunanda Ray said.
'The Family Medicine training program will be based at district hospitals, where there are very few learning resources. The materials provided by the Information Fund will be crucial for self-directed learning, allowing students and trainees to look things up during their clinical work and while doing practical procedures,' She said.
CDs and DVDs will be a particularly helpful resource once the programme is underway because the material can easily be accessed remotely.
Where there is no doctor (2016)
Dr Pauline Hutchinson, who is based in Cheshire, applied to the BMA Information Fund in 2016 to source materials for the Wellspring Children's Medical Centre, a paediatric healthcare facility in rural South West Uganda.
The Medical Centre is staffed by a small interdisciplinary team of nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, social workers and support staff – no doctors are employed. Medical support comes from senior doctors in the region and volunteer groups organised by Dr Hutchinson.
Wellspring provides health and social care to over 15,000 sick, vulnerable and deprived children in the region each year.
'The staff were thrilled with the books and amazed at the quality and variety provided. You can imagine they are always very busy, but I have found that they are never too busy to learn.
'The staff conduct monthly educational seminars to promote medical education and shared learning, and the books' use is encouraged during all CPD courses and seminars,' Dr Hutchinson said.
Funding for the Centre comes solely from charitable contributions provided through the UK-based charity Medcare. In 2014 the Medical Centre was refurbished and significantly increase in size, but due to funding limitations no books had been added since 2010.
Before applying to the Information Fund, the Centre had around 30 books, some dating back to the 1980s.
'Internet access is very limited and so books, DVD's and CD's are invaluable to the health care staff to aid learning. The books provided by the BMA will certainly assist them in caring for the needy children of Uganda.'
'The donation was perfect' (2013)
Oxford GP Claire Blacklock applied to the 201 BMA Information Fund to help plug a gap in educational materials in Sierra Leone.
She set up the library in the city of Bo after establishing another in Makeni while volunteering there during 2012/13 with her husband, Alex, also a GP.
They spotted a need for educational resources for local healthcare workers on, for example, prescribing medication for malaria.
The Bo Government Hospital/School of Community Health Science Library now has more than 300 medical, management and fiction titles, with their core medical texts coming via a donation from the fund.
‘The donation from the BMA was perfect. It enabled us to buy the core texts and then we added to that with some other texts through private donations,’ Dr Blacklock said.
‘The fund makes sure that the donated books are useful, up-to-date and in an accessible format, rather than having books that are just people’s junk. That is not useful in Sierra Leone, or the UK.’
So far, the library has 96 registered members and 74 items have been borrowed since it opened in February this year. However, often people read the books in the library itself.
Dr Blacklock is returning to Bo next month to conduct a formal evaluation and appraise the librarian.
‘We don’t yet know how it’s affecting clinical practice and we would like to assess this,’ she said.
Resourcing Congo communities (2012)
Service Medical, in the Diocese of Aru (pictured above), was among the recipients of the 2012 round of funding from the BMA Information Fund.
The resources helped Congo communities by providing schools with material on HIV, a nursing college and health centres with learning aids, and also information for health slots on local radio stations.
BMA international committee chair Terry John said: 'The BMA is pleased to be able to support a number of deserving health-related organisations in developing countries with donations of essential health educational materials.'
Self-discovery of sexual and reproductive health rights in Pakistan (2011)
Books from the 2011 fund were also donated to PFP (Peace Foundation Pakistan).
The organisation works in sexual and reproductive health rights and advocacy, and is using the up-to-date information from the books in seminars, workshops and meetings. Books on first aid have also been popular with students at the local high school.
Farzana Qamar, a counsellor with the foundation's safe medical abortion project, says illiterate women have learned more about their bodies and health through the illustrated books donated by the fund.
PFP director Zarina Balaoch adds that the books on pharmacy and first aid have been useful for health workers in rural areas, where there are few doctors or pharmacists.
Ms Balaoch says: 'People rely on folk medicines [in rural areas]. Sometimes they become victims of more dangerous diseases. Where There Are No Pharmacists is a good book...for all health workers.'
A book on making health services more women-friendly is to be translated into Sindhi to allow more people to benefit from it.
'We have limited resources, so we could not buy books and journals of international standards,' it says. 'There are so many...informative and useful websites, but they [demand] money. It is very difficult for a medium-sized non-governmental organisation to meet expenses. We found [the BMA] a supportive organisation for this purpose.'
Training health workers in Mbale (2011)
The beneficiaries of the 2011 round include the Health Manpower Development Centre in Mbale, eastern Uganda. It is run by the country's Ministry of Health, and is responsible for healthcare workers' training needs.
It received books and educational material, which are now used by a wide variety of staff and students, including those of regional hospitals, district health centres, and hygiene and nursing schools. They are also used by distance learners.
The materials are kept in the library of the development centre, and are used by around 20 people each day (pictured right).
Faustine Maiso, a Ugandan doctor who has worked for the World Health Organisation and the Uganda Human Rights Commission, made the centre's application to the fund. He is very grateful for the fund's support.
'The materials we received were up to date and relevant for training and educational development of health workers in Uganda,' he says. 'They are written in simple English, which is easy to understand. The CDs are more relevant to our department of training.
'However, we have faced some challenges, especially in rationing the books. It is difficult for books to be lent out, [especially] to health training officers in nearby institutions.'
'The materials we received were up to date and relevant for training and educational development of health workers in Uganda'
Dr Maiso says the more useful resources are those on managing complications in pregnancy and childbirth, public health, and diagnosis and treatment. The materials were so helpful to health care work in Uganda that he has applied to the fund again this year.