Scots university staff to save lives in the world’s poorest countries


MEDICAL staff from Scotland’s University of Edinburgh have been selected for a UK government volunteering scheme that will provide training on life-saving healthcare to medical workers in some of the world’s poorest countries, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell announced today.

Skilled health professionals from across Britain will teach and offer practical assistance to their counterparts in the developing world under the Government’s Health Partnership Scheme managed by The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET).

Over four years, the flagship programme will train 13,000 overseas healthcare workers across many disciplines, including trauma care, mental health, anaesthesia and maternal and child health.

They will also support 142 skilled British healthcare volunteers for 6 months or over and enable 600 UK healthcare workers to volunteer overseas on short term placements.

British health workers will pass on their experience to colleagues in developing countries with practical ‘on the job’ training by demonstrating their skills on patients. They will also offer one-to-one mentoring, run courses and develop guidelines and protocols to ensure clinics run more effectively.

The University of Edinburgh will work with partners in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia to strengthen and integrate palliative care services within each country’s national health system so that those living with HIV/AIDS and other life-limiting illnesses can receive the care, pain relief and support that is a basic human right.

Liz Grant, Senior Lecturer in Global Health and Development at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Working together with many experts here and in Africa, this programme will greatly improve the approach to palliative care in these countries, relieving and treating the suffering of thousands of people who are afflicted by disease.”

The scheme also benefits volunteers as they return to the NHS with increased knowledge, better leadership skills and an improved ability to deal with complex situations under pressure.

Speaking at the Royal College of Midwives to mark International Day of the Midwife, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: “British nurses, midwives and medical teams are among the best in the world. I’m glad medical staff from the University of Edinburgh and NHS Highland will be part of this UK initiative to improve the health of some of the world’s poorest people.”

“It is an international scandal that one thousand women die every day in pregnancy or childbirth and tackling the tragic scale of maternal and child deaths is a key priority for the British Government.

The programme is part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to save the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborn babies by 2015.

The scheme will support up to 50 international partnerships between the NHS and UK institutions and developing countries’ health systems.

Volunteers can be midwives, nurses, doctors or health technicians and long term volunteers from the NHS will have their pension contributions guaranteed.

Jane Cockerell, Chief Executive at THET: “We are delighted by the quality and range of these HPS grants and look forward to supporting the UK and developing country partners in their delivery of effective, sustainable health workforce training and development projects”



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