Help to stop the brain drain

BY CHIKWAPURO
The skills drain that is a plague in Africa at present has hit Zimbabwe very hard. The statistics for the number of people who have left the country and the skills lost are staggering. The people at home are left in desperate need of health care and health professionals equally desp

erate for resources to treat people, teach and train more health workers with.
In the past we had good infrastructure for training health workers. Now there are more Zimbabwean doctors outside Zimbabwe than in, more radiographers and pharmacists in UK that in Zimbabwe etc. The people who should be producing the health professionals of tomorrow in Zimbabwe are busy struggling for survival at home and away…mostly away.
Zimbabwe Health Training Support [ZHTS] fulfils a need by those who have left to support colleagues at home. This support will mostly be in the field of health worker training at all levels: community, nurse, and all professions allied to medicine. To date we have been able to send one person to give a set of lectures for the Masters in Medicine course at the College of Health Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe. With the support of the British Medical Association and the British Medical Journal we expect to send some books to the College.
For 2007 we have set ourselves some challenges. Zimbabwe has some of the worst death rates among pregnant women or those who have recently given birth. The reason is poor access to health care. The availability of maternity care has decreased with loss of midwives as care givers and trainers of others. Maternal health is one of the Millennium Development Goals [MDG] of the World Health Organisation. Is there anything we can do to help….from outside?
Many models of support for developing countries show that it is often the little things that act on peoples’ morale and motivation to achieve more than they would normally. The little things are teaching materials that they need that make teaching a joy rather than a burden, easy access to information that enhances their own knowledge base and confidence, professional contact and support from other people in the same field.
People abroad have much easier access to these types of resources and they can make a big difference by making them accessible to colleagues left holding up what is left of the health care system. Where people with skills can and want to go to Zimbabwe to teach or do clinical work to support, we are keen to help with organisational support so that people do not just ‘turn up’ wanting to do something. ‘Turning up’ disrupts working schedules and ends up costing local people more time than they have.
We are a membership organisation for anyone, Zimbabwean or British, health professional or not, interested in supporting the training needs of health professions and supporting their work. Already there are individual people sending equipment, books, or using their holidays to give lectures etc in Zimbabwe. Any nurse, doctor, pharmacist, laboratory scientist or anyone in the UK wanting to support such activities through the combined efforts of colleagues and friends can join us. – ZHTS e-mail: [email protected]

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