Monday, 9 October 2017

Bridget's account

A group of Friends of Chitambo Hospital recently visited Chitambo. Scottish members were: Jo Vallis, chairperson, Julie Davidson, patron, and her daughter, Catherine, Alison Smart, lecturer in nursing studies at Napier University, and Bridget Innes a semi-retired GP. Zambian partners were Consider Mudenda, in-country co-ordinator; Levi Chifwaila, former senior nurse lecturer at Chitambo School of Nursing, now at Kabwe; and Emma Ndalameta Theo, a medical librarian from the University of Zambia.

The main aims were to attend a first aid workshop aimed mainly for ambulance drivers and front line clinical staff, and to check on the new radios in the rural health clinics without mobile phone connection. We left Lusaka with a heavily loaded vehicle, picking Emma up, en route. Consider ably drove the long journey to Chitambo. 

Julie Davidson, FoCH Patron, with Catherine (L), Alison R) and Levi (behind)
L to R, Consider, Jo, Alison, Levi, and Julie

The main aims were to attend a first aid workshop aimed mainly for ambulance drivers and front line clinical staff, and to check on the new radios in the rural health clinics without mobile phone connection. We left Lusaka with a heavily loaded vehicle, picking Emma up, en route. Consider ably drove the long journey to Chitambo. 

Loading up for the journey to Chitambo

Chitambo Hospital 2017

The 3 day First Aid Workshop was run by Levi. The talks were given by Levi, members of Chitambo’s clinical team, a surgeon from the trauma unit at Kabwe hospital, Alison and Emma. Chitambo has recently been supplied with two new fully equipped ambulances; the drivers had not been shown how to use the equipment, and we keen to learn. There was also time to speak to other members of staff to discuss future developments. A doctor and technician from the Flying Doctor service visited to discuss the new radios, which they had supplied, and suggestions for further equipment.

Some of us also took the opportunity to visit some of the distant clinics. Consider checked the radios, and Emma introduced the staff to tablets which have heen downloaded with clinical information. 

Consider one of the new emergency radios supplied by FoCH

Emma demonstrates use of a tablet pc

We were pleased to see that the Life Wrap treatment for post partum bleeding, supplied by FoCH, were in the clinics. One of these clinics is over 100km from the hospital, the last 16km being along a single track causeway through swamp. Fortunately it was fairly dry at this time of year, but in the rainy season it is sometimes submerged and the journey for ambulances is very difficult. The clinic serves a population of almost 7,000, but currently is staffed by only a newly qualified nurse and a health care assistant, with the help of volunteer community health workers. Two women were in labour during our visit. In another clinic, close to the village where David Livingstone died, there were no lights as the new staff did not know how to obtain bulbs for the solar lights.

Remote Rural Health Clinic

Motorbike ambulance in use at the above clinic

Ambulance driver and simulated patient

Children served by the above clinic

The team made a lot of useful new contacts and have ideas to take forward to help communication and emergency treatment in the Chitambo district.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Chitambo visit September 2017: Jo's account

Scottish and Zambian partners had  great week at Chitambo Hospital, central Zambia, from 4th to 8th September 2017.  The First Aid workshop, designed and delivered by Levi, went very well.  The 10 participants included ambulance drivers and other frontline emergency care staff.  Facilitators included a top trauma surgeon from the provincial capital, Kabwe and a nurse lecturer/FoCH volunteer from Napier University, Scotland.  The programme was wide ranging including principles of first aid; ABC (airway, breathing, circulation); wound management; blood loss and shock; fractures; burns; poisoning; chocking and much more.  Classroom sessions were  followed by practical demonstrations including simulated exercises based on specific emergency scenarios (road traffic accidents).  

Feedback was good with the majority saying that the training had improved their ability to respond to emergencies and that they would like longer training in the future, with more practical sessions.

Post-workshop team line up
Clinical Officer demonstrares

Experienced ambulance drivers look on intently
Ambulance drivers get hands on experience

A willing 'victim'

Please see our photo and video galleries for some more images of the training in progress: Click here for the photo gallery

We also had great meetings about other aspects of our project on strengthening emergency care communications in the area.  Leaders of  Zambian Flying Doctor Service (ZFDS) traveled all the way from the Copper Belt especially to meet us and discuss potential for collaboration on developing a Central Province emergency care response system based on digital radio communications.  They say that this is the Zambian policy direction for emergency care and Chitambo District is leading the way..   ZFDS has other stakeholders who would be interested in partnering on grant bids.  Discussions with the head of the Kabwe trauma service suggested similar interest in collaboration on grant bids.

Jo with leaders of teh Zambian Flying Dctor Service (ZFDS) 

Top Zambian trauma surgeon teaching on the First Aid course

Other highlights of the visit included a trip to N'Kundalila Falls and Kalwa farm where 6 Moffats are buried (descendants of David Livingstones wife Mary's family). Livingstone's nephew, Malcolm Moffat, was founder of Chitambo Hospital. 

Beautiful Kundalila

Kundalila pool

Malcolm Moffat, founder of Chitambo Hospital 

Moffat graves at Kalwa

Jo and Bridget also had a chance to visit the Bangwelu swamps where Livingstone died. They took a day excursion from Kasanka National Park to see the famous Shoebills.....a most amazing prehistoric-looking bird which nests in the swamps. The visit involved setting off from Gibson, one of Chitambos remotest clinics, firstly in a boat punted through the swamps and then on foot, wading waist deep in these malarial swamps. We were rewarded with Shoebills but also much more....the beauty if the swamps, the strength and character of the people, and insights on alternative uses of impregnated mosquito make fishing nets! Surprising in this most malarial area but perhaps putting food in the belly simply takes priority over malaria prevention?
Punting through teh Bangwelu wetlands

Creative use of impregnated mosquito nets

Trecking to see the Shoebills
The Shoebill tour started at Gibson, Chitambo District's most remote Rural Health  Clinic.   Jo and Bridget called to pay their respects to clinic staff and saw the new very High Frequency (VHF) digital radio, supplied by our project, in action.

They also saw the  motorbike ambulance used by the clinic to collect patients from surrounding villages.

Motorbike ambulance

Whilst in Lusaka, our team had had the good fortune to meet and dine with the Secretary General of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ).  . She is a remarkable Zambian lady with a PhD on women in leadership within the church. Modern missionary, Ida, made the introduction. Ida is the Health Secretary for the UCZ and her husband, Keith is Education Secretary. Both do a huge amount of health and education work around Zambia, including at remote Mbereshi Mission in Luapula Province. Our team traveled there as Julie is researching for a book about Mabel Shaw, founder of the girls school there. Ida met us there, showed us around the hospital and school and hosted us with a very welcome lunch. Later we visited the magnificent Tumbachushi Falls and enjoyed a wonderful swim.

TumbaChushi Falls, Kawambwa, Luapula Province

Jo's dad had served as a doctor at Mbereshi Hospital for a short spell, n the late 1960s, and she was able to identify the house they had stayed in, now in ruins but recognisable.

Consider drove us very competently all the way to Kawambwa, near Mbereshi, and back and we can't thank him enough for our safe travels

AGM 2017

Please join us for our Friends of Chitambo AGM.
When?: Saturday 14th October 2017, 11am to 1pm UK time ( 12 to 2 pm Zambia time), to hear about our recent visit to Chitambo and other progress over the past year.
Where?: The Community Room, Penicuik Library, Carlops Road, PENICUIK, MIDLOTHIAN, SCOTLAND EH26 9PE:…/penicuik_library/1252/find_us
Here is a link to the agenda and meeting papers:…/fo…/0B6Xci-Qh9PixM09ObEg1R3pMY0E…
Skype access may be available. Please email Jo Vallis, Chair ( if you are interested in this option and we will try to link you.
Thank you to all who have given support over the year. You are making a very big difference.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Operation book covering

Through our Scottish Government funded Small Grant project on 'strengthening emergency care communications in Chitambo District' we have purchased 40 new emergency care books from Teaching Aids at Low Cost (TALC):
The books are for an emergency care resource centre at Chitambo Hospital and its 12 Rural Health Clinics.

They include:
  • Essential Obstetric and Newborn Care
  • Medecin Sans Frontier Clinical Guideines
  • The British National (Drug) Formulary  
3 'hard to reach' clinics, in the Bangwelu Swamps, which do not have internet connectivity, will also receive tablet pcs with emergency care downloads (First Aid app etc), so that, despite their isolation,  staff have access to best emergency care evidence.

To ensure durability of the books, we obtained slip over dust covers.

Here are some photos of the books and our Trustee, Margaret (a retired teacher),  helping to apply the covers.

A Penicuik GP also donated 3 quite recent drug formularies to boost our stocks.  These are like gold and we can't thank her enough for the kind gesture.

A very successful fundraising event

The Summer Street Fair took place on Saturday 26th August, in the Friernds of Chitambo (FoCH) stronghold, Penicuik, Scotland..

Running the stall was  a particular challenge this year  as some of us are off to Chitambo, Zambia, on 31st August

Even so, with all hands on deck, the effort paid off , with bumper takings, almost double our usual average.  Congratulations to the team and particular thanks to our new young volunteers, Jenny, Alison and Catherine whose persuasive selling powers are most impressive.

5 team members (Jo, Lou, Catriona, Jenny and Alison) are from health service backgrounds and 3 (Catriona, Jenny and Alison) are currently in high flying health service roles.  Catriona is an Organisational Development Lead in  and Edinburgh Special Healthboard; Jenny is training as an  Advanced Nurse Practitioner, in Critical Care; and Alison is a Nurse Lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University.  We are highly privileged to have them all on board.

We were also privileged to have help from Catherine, daughter of our charity Patron, Julie Davidson. With much experience in the field of retail, Catherine has great business sense and sold a lot of raffle tickets.  Her mother, Julie,  is an author and journalist and wrote the acclaimed book 'Looking for Mrs. Livingstone'.  This is about David Livingstone's wife, Mary Moffat, whose nephew Malcolm Moffat, founded Chitambo Hospital in 1908.

Catherine and Alison are joining the group which is travelling to Chitambo on Thursday 31st August. The other travelers include Julie, Jo (FoCH Chair)  and FoCH member Bridget who is a Scottish doctor with extensive experience of medical volunteering in Zambia and South Africa.

Thanks also to Street Fair stalwarts Margaret and Gillian, who provided much produce and guided the novice helpers in the art of fundraising. We could not do without you or without the help of Jo's husband  Richard who, despite his 'bionic' (artificial) leg, is always there to help with transporting the team, cheering us on and  proffering tea and coffee.

Thank you too to Consider and his wife Pharren, in Zambia, who supplied the beads, shirts, and beautiful sandals, all hand made by Pharren, in Zambia.  These attracted much interest and sales.

Also thanks to  our Trustees, Ba Chola and Ba Loveness, in Chesterfield, England.  Chola is a Lala gentleman, from Chitambo and, as such, is a tremendous asses to the charity.


Proceeds are likely to go towards our student nurse scholarships.  More on that soon.

See our Street Fair photo gallery:
Lou and Jenny (wo)man the sandal, beads, and home baking stall

Catherine and Alison pose with the 2017 Penicuik King and Queen 

Jenny takes charge of the garden produce

What a team!

See this relevant TED Talk: No one should die because they live too far from a doctor

Check out this recent TED talk, which seems of real relevance to places like Chitambo District:
Raj Panjabi: No one should die because they live too far from a doctor

This is why the First Aid workshop which Chitambo partners are running for ambulance drivers, and other frontline emergency care staff (5th to 7th September), is so valuable.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Hallelujah, job well done!

True to their word, the Zambian Flying doctor Service (ZFDS) has installed the 4 Motorola Very High Frequency (VHF) digital radios purchased for the Chitambo emergency care communications project.  They have been installed  at 3 'hardest to reach' clinics, where there is no mobile phone connectivity, and at a 4th clinic which can relay emergency messages to Chitambo Hospital.
We are very grateful to ZFDS for their efficient service.  This should save lives.

The next step is to monitor the number of radio calls and their outcomes, to gauge effectiveness.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Friends of Chitambo Street Fair stall advertised

Friends of Chitambo Trustee, Margaret, posted this article in the Penicuk newsletter, the Town Crier:

" Friends of Chitanbo are having a stall at the (Penicuik, Scotland) Street Fair on 26th August.  We continue to support the hospital and surrounding area in Zambia.  Five professionals, members of Friends, are going to meet Zambian partners and work with them training ambulance drivers in first aid.  They will see the progress made with the 'mini NHS24' (emergency response) service for which we received a grant from Holyrood.  This is a very necessary service  for outlying clinics of which one is 125 miles from the hospital."

Well said Ba Margaret.  As a retired teacher, your writing skills shine through.  Natotela sana mukwai (thank you) for your ongoing support.

Staunch Street Fair supporter Margaret 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

'Old' Friends treated to Chitambo hospitality

Due to the miracle of technology, news has been reaching us, here in Scotland,  of the traditional Chitambo hospitality offered to 2 'old' friends, Ron and Andrew Swanson.  Their Dad, Ron Swanson Senior, built the original student nurse hostel at Chitambo, which is still in use today.  Ron and Andrew lived at Chitambo as children.

They have just returned from a historic revisit and have been beaming back pictures and video clips of the tumultuous welcome which only Chitambo people could give.

In Ron's words, it was 'a very special, humbling and inspiring' experience and they particularly enjoyed the church service and meeting the only surviving person who had worked with their Dad.

Twatotela saana mukwai (thank you very much) to all at Chitambo for looking after  Ron and Andrew so well.

Penicuik Street fair stall: Saturday 26th August 2017

It's that time again and luckily we have all hands on deck to help with this annual fundraising event which takes place just a few days before some FoCH members travel to Zambia for the project monitoring and evaluation   visit and First Aid workshop.

A very big thank you to the following local Penicuik businesses for their generous donations of raffle prizes for this and previous events:

  • Enhance Beauty:
  • The Best Seller:
  • Giovani's Italian Bistro:
  • Castle Waerhouse:
Thank you, too, to FoCH Trustees Margaret and Gillian for negotiating these donations with the local shopkeepers and to all FoCH members and wider friends who are also helping with donations of goods, items, baking, and their precious time.

You are all making a real difference on the ground at Chitambo. 

Chola and Loveness are staunch supporters but are too far away to contribute directly.  However, they are planning a stall for this year's Zambian Independence Celebrations in the Midlands.  They are even thinking of designing a FoCH banner of their own, for local use.  

Last year the couple raised a whopping £300 on their stall and this went to purchasing 5 solar lights for use at remote Rural Health Clinics.  As nurses with extensive experience of the pressures of running remote Zambian health clinics, they know how important it is to have access to electricity.  On a recent visit to Chitambo District, they witnessed that nurses were having to sue the light of mobile phones to deliver babies.

Thank you to Chola and Loveness for your dedication to helping Chola's home community of Chitambo.  You too are making a huge difference.