Monday, 15 March 2010

and what Alison gets up to...

Alison is continuing to really enjoy her work and finds it very fulfilling. All the clinics have actively engaged in the training programme, the development of which was her main VSO placement objective. It is so rewarding to hear how valuable the clinics find it, not only from the point of view of updating their knowledge base, and so continuing to improve the standard of care that they offer, but also from the angle of consolidating the team and increasing overall job satisfaction.
The training programme constitutes an in-house component which involves the whole multidisciplinary team within each clinic, and an across-clinic component which is organised within each of the disciplines – medical, nursing, and laboratory. The in-house component comprises weekly continuous medical education (CME) sessions, 2 out of 3 of which are around a set curriculum with the objective of producing useful evidence-based guidelines/protocols on important topics that the clinics have identified themselves and from which the timetable was drawn up. The across-clinic component falls within each discipline and involves internet-based learning modules, and regular workshops at which all the medical and clinical officers gather. As well as appreciating the training, they also benefit from the opportunity to socialise and create a network of colleagues with whom they can share best practice and from whom they can draw support despite the distances between them. There are now coordinators for the clinic nurses and laboratory technicians, so Alison can concentrate mainly on the medical and clinical officers. We have also created a training team which comprises representatives from each discipline and whose remit is to arrange structured training team visits during which they offer support and training within their area of expertise, as well as together build on the teamworking within the clinic.
The team has now undertaken several training team visits with good effect and excellent results and so Alison is confident that the programme will continue to be successful with the support of this team and under the excellent leadership of one of the clinic doctors, Dr Terry. Alison has one last workshop to organise together with Dr Terry and then will continue to support her and the team but plans to spend more time on the other projects in which she has been involved.
Her next main focus is the development of the sexual health services in the local community through the community project that is currently running, Touch Namuwongo. This project is well-established and has been running for almost 2 years supporting close to 600 people infected by HIV in the local communities. It also provides care for those affected by TB and Alison is now in the process of expanding the sexual health service it offers, which she hopes will have a huge impact on the morbidity and mortality associated with STIs, as well as reduce the transmission of HIV through better control of STIs. The project also runs weekly outreach sessions in the community where they offer health education and voluntary counselling and testing for HIV and some photos from one of these outreaches are pictured here. She has also been involved in setting up a cervical screening programme at the hospital, and the hospital has now agreed to offer this to the community free of charge which is a very exciting development. The CEO is now keen to set up similar programmes in the North of Uganda, which has even less available healthcare so that will be Alison’s next focus.
Community projects like this and others attached to a lot of the clinics with whom Alison is working, make a huge difference to the local community and are funded through IMF – International Medical Foundation. IMF is supported by the proceeds from the hospital and charitable donations through the Suubi Trust. You can learn more about them and these projects through their website (, and having had personal involvement in them all, Alison can vouch for every last one of them!

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