MDG 6: Combat DiseaseTarget 6a: Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
Target 6b: Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
Target 6c: Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases
82 organisations in Wales are contributing towards the MDG for combating HIV AIDS and Disease, through supporting projects that are
Find out more about Wales' contribution to the Millennium Development Goals
Geographically and medically, the healthcare setup in Southern Ethiopia and in the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust in South Wales are worlds apart. But, thanks to the drive and determination of a project launched in 2000, a new world of medical care and health education is being created today. The focus of the Southern Ethiopia Gwent Health Links is skills training of front-line health professionals like health officers, midwives and nurses working in resource-poor health centres, along with supporting these health centres to access essential medical equipment and training material.
In the spring of 2000, following a request from Dr. Gobezie, a local surgeon in Southern Ethiopia, two consultant surgeons from Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny, Dr Biku Ghosh and Dr Ian Mackie, travelled to teach in an emergency skills course for the student health officers in Dilla College. What they found on their visit convinced them that just one visit was never going to be adequate to meet their needs.
One local hospital with 50 beds, serving a population of half a million people (similar to that served by Gwent Healthcare Trust) was extremely run down and had lost the confidence of the local people because of lack of basic resources. Open only from 9 to 3 on weekdays with no emergency cover outside hours – and with operations prohibited by lack of blood transfusion or oxygen supplies – the nearest fully functional hospital was fifty miles away over rough roads, in area with little access to transport. Lack of clean water, sanitation and health education in local communities meant many water-borne diseases, TB, pneumonia, malaria and HIV were very common, putting unresourced local health centres under great strain. Without midwives, maternal deaths were a hundred times higher than in UK.
Many of these statistics were seen to be preventable, both by the dedicated but underresourced health staff in Ethiopia, and by their visitors from Wales. And so, the Nevill Hall-Dilla Link was launched by Biku Ghosh following their return.
The link has rapidly expanded over the past 8 years and has transformed to the Southern Ethiopia-Gwent Health Link reflecting the wider involvement on both sides of the partnership. The Link runs many projects tailored for local requirements in Ethiopia, in close collaboration with local health authorities in Ethiopia as well as the World Health Organisation and Tropical Health and Education Trust. Although the ‘hub’ of the link is now with Hwassa regional Hospital, projects are embedded strongly in community health centres, including:
• Emergency Skills - several hundred front-line health professionals have been trained in emergency and essential surgical, trauma and resuscitation skills for use in resource-poor health centres.
• Midwifery Skills - bi-annual obstetrics skills workshops have been rolled out for health officers, nurses and midwives, along with provision of essential equipment and drugs.
• Laboratory Skills - training workshops have been developed for medical lab technicians as as well as provision of teaching microscopes, training materials and reagents. Over 200 lab students have been trained.
• Exemplar Health Centres – Gwent volunteers and health professionals have committed to training and supporting staff at Wondo-Genet, Alaba and Yirgacheffee health centres in the long term. Each serve a rural population of over 100,000 outside Hawassa, and these will serve as beacons of quality health care in their regions.
• E-Learning at the health centre level is a first in Ethiopia, with the link providing training as well as infrastructure. This helps us provide continuing medical education through relevant, interactive content.
• Material Resources – drawing on generosity of many Welsh health providers, the Gwent Ethiopia Link have donated oxygen concentrators, essential surgical and obstetric equipment as well as several thousand medical textbooks, teaching materials and computers. In 2009, donors supported purchase of motorcycle ambulances for transfer of critically ill patients from health centres to nearby hospitals; by 2010 these have already saved many lives.
For more information visit - http://www.ethiopiagwentlink.org/v2/