...how she became involved with the Virtual Doctors with the BMA volunteering team.
Purpose: Project-manage the Virtual Doctors’ operations in Zambia
Contract: 6-month initial contract, reviewed at 3 months – contractor basis
Hours: Full Time - based on an 8-hour working day, 5 days a week
Location: Virtual Doctors Office, Kabalunga Lusaka
Reports to: Executive Director (UK-based)
the Virtual Doctors is a UK registered charity and Zambia registered NGO, funded entirely through the generosity of supporters and donors The Virtual Doctors’ simple technology and medicine (telemedicine) software, designed for use in rural Zambia, connects clinical officers, with a panel of volunteer doctors who give diagnosis and treatment advice on complex cases. As a result, patients are diagnosed more quickly and more often treated in their communities while the Clinical Officers benefit from on-going further education through their interaction with the Virtual Doctors.
In partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Health, Directorate of Clinical Care and Diagnostic Services, and an agreed Memorandum of Understanding, the area of active operation is in multiple sites across rural Zambia, currently set up in 29 rural health centres and 2 district hospitals in Chongwe, Chilanga, Kafue, Kazungula, Siavonga and Luangwa Districts.
The Project Manager’s key responsibility will be to facilitate and over-see a smooth operation of our service via the deployment and maintenance of the devices used at our sites. This includes supporting the Clinical Officers with trouble-shooting and any other concerns, with the ultimate goal to maintain and increase usage of the VDrs’ service. This role is also responsible for managing staff and contractors where necessary, as well as developing key external relationships with partner NGO’s and Ministries.
The Project Manager will work closely with the Office Bearers of the Virtual Doctors NGO in Zambia as well as key personnel based elsewhere.
The charity is aiming to expand into Malawi in 2018 and there is a possibility for an exceptional candidate to have a renewed contract and to expand their responsibilities.
• Serve as the Virtual Doctors local ambassador, championing the service and developing links with key audiences including Ministry of Health; District Health Offices and clinical officers.
• Champion the educational benefits of interaction with our service for Clinical Officers and encourage measures to be incorporated in Ministry Appraisal processes to help with Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
• Develop local (or input into centrally driven proposals) for potential supporters and partners in the public, private and non-profit sector to secure funding and in-kind support locally for the Virtual Doctors.
• Play a local representation role in the development of relationships and networks that may offer opportunities for expanding our clinic network into new areas
Management & Planning
• Gain an early understanding of the strategic aims of the organisation i.e. Business, Operational planning and become fully compliant with Policy and Procedures necessary to undertake these duties
• Line manage or liaise with other locally-based contractors as directed, and work with the Executive Director (UK) to set and monitor key performance indications (KPIs) in line with the Virtual Doctors internal appraisal policy processes and annual timescales or to meet/monitor contractor brief review timelines.
• Contribute appropriate information that may aid our identification of potential sites integral to any future expansion plan for development into new areas (against strategic matching criteria as directed by the Executive Director)
• Facilitate and if required attend visits to existing Rural Health Centres (RHCs) proactively encouraging system usage and offering local support
• Facilitate and attend regular meetings with Clinical Care Officers and District Health Directors, coordinators and Officers in support of the above.
• Instigate on-going training programmes for COs to update them with any changes to the service and co-create mechanisms and tools with Line Management to assist with motivation and ongoing learning. Ensure that the use of the deployment devices is optimal for MoH requirements and our own internal KPIs
• Oversee monitoring of software usage levels and ensure that software is working as expected; find solutions to fix minor problems locally or escalate more complex issues
• Co-create (with specified colleagues as appropriate) a training programme model for new and existing clinical officers and instigate a process and timeline to ensure that all new users are fully inducted at the outset and there is a planned follow up session for on-going motivation/feedback
• Oversee key consolidation and reporting of aggregate data (patient follow ups and CO interviews) Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) in conjunction with other staff and in-country Contractors as appropriate.
• Assist with the design and development of itineraries for visiting colleagues and play an integral role in any timetable
• Collaborate with Executive Director (UK) to aid development and management of the Virtual Doctors in-country operating budget
Any other tasks as may be reasonably required by the Executive Director from time to time that are relevant to this role.
• Submission of a monthly overview report on each site’s operations/issues, including number and type of patient files referred
• Monitoring of number of cases received and an online update of the status of units and usage levels
• Submission of a monthly report and also a 250-word blog using material and comments gained from clinical officer interactions/progress updates which can be used in marketing and fundraising material.
• Successful training and demonstrable motivation of Clinical Officers
We are looking for a talented, enthusiastic individual who wants to make a real difference to the lives of rural health workers in Zambia.
• Bachelor’s degree
• Permission to legally work and reside in Zambia
• Resident in Lusaka - able to easily access Virtual Doctors Office for working hours
• Minimum five years of project management experience in the public, private or non-profit sectors over at least 2 contracts with agencies prepared to support application with references
• Willingness to go into the field, staying overnight if necessary, to engage a wide variety of stakeholders
• Strong level of IT competency and ability to enthuse and train others in use of IT
• Excellent planning and communication skills, with a proven ability to collaborate successfully with a geographically dispersed team
• Excellent interpersonal skills: confident and culturally diplomatic with a range of internal and external stakeholders to convey the organisation’s culture, ethics and values?
• Flexible self-starter with competence in working effectively to negotiate unforeseen challenges
• Proficiency in at least 2 vernacular languages of Zambia
• Postgraduate degree in relevant area (eg public health)
• Budgeting and financial skills
• Significant experience of the health or non-profit sectors in southern Africa
• Access to own transport
Application details and Process
The deadline for applications is the 8th of September with brief initial interviews taking place in Lusaka on the afternoon of the 12th of September for short listed candidates and a final detailed interview in Lusaka on the morning of the 15th of September. Start date will be October 2017.
Applicants are encouraged to include a cover sheet to their CV demonstrating how they meet each of the 10 essentials mentioned above. If you do not meet these requirements please do not submit an application and if you do it will not be acknowledged.
If you are short listed you will be invited back to make a 10-minute presentation as to how you would tackle this position and why your background and skills match our expectations. This can be make verbally, in writing or with the support of visual aids such as PowerPoint. Only Shortlisted candidates will be notified and this will be done by 10th of September 2017
How to apply
You will need to look at our website. Then you can only apply by email and by answering the 5 questions which follow:-
Please email your application to firstname.lastname@example.org in the form of a CV and covering letter in not more than 500 words. This letter must include:
1. Why you would like to take up this role.
2. What are your key relevant skills and experience.
3. Provide example/s of project/s you have managed, challenges experienced and how you overcame them.
4. Details about your current role.
5. Email or addresses of 2 references with phone numbers which will only be contacted after shortlisting and with consent. (It is not our policy to accept verbal references over the telephone from third parties)
Applications which do not address the above criteria will not receive a response.
Shortlisted candidates will be notified by 10th September 2017
After presenting at the Hong Kong Hospital Authority Annual Conference (the theme was innovation in healthcare through technological development), Huw is on the road again: last week in Malawi, meeting with the Ministry of Health and local stakeholders in preparation for expansion into Malawi.
He is currently in Zambia again, with VDrs Trustee James Phiri, for Ministry of Health meetings and touring a number of the Virtual Doctors sites to support the Clinical Officers (COs) we serve with our telemedicine service.
Two days ago, when Huw returned to Lusaka, the rural neighbour’s young son was taken ill in the middle of the night with suspected appendicitis. It was not easy finding an open clinic at 2am as even in Lusaka, the capital city, there is no readily available A&E! Eventually they found a clinic and two tired COs who were able to help. Appendicitis was ruled out and the boy discharged after further tests in the morning. This was yet another frightening reminder of how lucky we are in Europe with our healthcare and how important the work of the Virtual Doctors is!
A case from the field: Pellagra
During a busy clinic one of the Kafue based clinical officers saw a 42 year old female patient. She had an itchy, painful rash around her neck and on her arms, hands and feet. This had been troubling her for 3 months and despite treatment was no better. The rash looked dry, peeling and was much darker than her normal skin. She was known to be HIV positive too.
The clinical officer sent off a patient file with some very helpful photos to Virtual Doctors. The Volunteer Virtual doctor felt this was likely to be a case of Pellagra. The reply was sent giving clear explanation and treatment advice. Education was also given to help with ongoing learning and to improve treatment of other cases.
Our Lusaka office
The Virtual Doctors opened its first office outside the UK in Lusaka at the end of April, in the suburbs of the capital, off the Leopards Hill road to the South West of the City. The small office is located within the ‘Latitude 15 Degrees’ Hotel business area. We would like to thank the owners for their kind sponsorship of part of the rental costs, which include the stable internet connection our work requires.
This is where our Field Assistant Stellah Chilembo carries out her follow up work with the clinical officers and patients when she is not meeting with them in person. She is our link with the field! This data is important for monitoring and improving our service as well as for our all-important fundraising efforts. The office also provides an all-important safe-guarding place for our equipment.
Fundraising and sporting challenge
A reminder that we are looking for fit (or at least persevering) people to take part in the Ultra Challenge series, which cover coastal, urban and country routes: “Walk, or Jog, or Run – 25km, 50km or 100km - Individuals & Teams - For Charity or Self Fund- Fantastic Routes, Full Support”.
The events left are the South Coast Challenge on 26/27 August – running from Eastbourne to Arundel, it is very much local to us to many of our supporters! – and the two London events on 9/10 September: the Thames Path Challenge and the more urban and shorter (25km) Thames Bridges Trek .
It is not too late to take advantage of our reduced-cost places, sign up, set up your fundraising page and raise much needed funds for the Virtual Doctor while participating in an amazing outdoor sports experience. VDrs Executive Business Assistant Lina has lived to tell the tale of the London2Brighton (Quarter) Challenge and says “I’d love to do it again”!!
Calling to our Dorset (UK) music-loving followers!
Our lovely supporters from The United Church of Dorchester are holding an event in support of the Virtual Doctors this coming Sunday, 2nd July at 3pm, United Church of Dorchester.
After the success of Christ Church Lewes’ support last year, 2017 has seen the adoption of the Virtual Doctors by The United Church of Dorchester, whose congregation is already raising much needed funds for the charity.
Volunteers and Supporter News
Improving our communication channels and online presence
Terry Cann (left), our new webmaster and IT support volunteer, is now fully settled since joining us in early May. He is currently liaising with the VDrs app development team to understand the process of its on-going development.
In the meantime, he is working with Lina on optimising our website and our online presence in general, with the invaluable support of another Virtual Doctors volunteer, Geoff Meakin (left) from SERP Health, an online marketing company for healthcare. Terry: “Geoff recommends improvements to the website that would help search engine optimisation and I implement what Geoff recommends. Geoff and I both review the site for usability and impact and again I implement it.”
If you follow us on social media, you may have noticed the increased activity following the success of our Small Charity Week awareness campaign. The aim of increasing our support base is to hopefully generate more much needed donations.
Ubuntu is a southern African term which means ‘doing something for others’. 1-7 June was Volunteer Week and we would like to take this opportunity to thank yet again our past, present – and future! – volunteers, without whom the Virtual Doctors could not survive.