May Newsletter

Update from Luangwa

with a great performance from our newest district!

In the last month we’ve expanded into 6 new clinics in Luangwa district. The clinics at Luangwa Borna, Mandombe, Luangwa High School, Chicopee, Kasinsa and Sinyawagora have two nurses and a certified midwife as well as the Clinical Officers using the app. In only a month this new district has referred almost a case a day.

It’s great to see the service going from strength to strength.





Our Country lead Dr. Phallon Mwaba (far left) with our Luangwa Clinical Officers

Walk for the Virtual Doctors!

Our very own Executive Business Assistant Lina Woehrling has teamed up with a friend to walk the quarter option for Action Challenge’s London2Brighton to raise funds and awareness for the Virtual Doctors’ cause. That’s 31km on the 27th May, so less than a month to train and a first deadline on the 12th May of having raised 50% of the fundraising target (based on the cost of equipping a Clinical Officer for a whole year). Help spur her on by visiting and sharing Justgiving page — we thank you in advance for your generosity!

If this is giving you itchy feet, there is an exciting opportunity to support the Virtual Doctors throughout 2017: we have signed up as a listed charity for the whole Ultra Challenge series, which covers coastal, urban and country routes: Walk, or Jog, or Run - 100km, 50km, or 25km - Individuals & Teams - Fantastic Routes, Full Support.

We have 5 inspirational endurance events for you to take part in:

(Isle of Wight Challenge —  April — has already passed)

London2Brighton Challenge - 27/28 May

Cotswold Way Challenge - 1/2 July

South Coast Challenge - 26/27 August

Thames Path Challenge - 9/10 September

Thames Bridges Trek - 9 September

Contact Lina to find out more. Go on, May is national walking month!

A case from the field

We recently had a case where a 9-year-old boy was brought to a rural health centre having been bitten in the leg by a snake, most likely a puff-adder. The cytotoxic venom caused necrosis and made the wound spread all over the calf (photo withheld!). The Clinical Officer (CO) sent a patient file to the Virtual Doctors for advice. Large wounds like this one have a high risk of complications such as abscess formation or bone infection. These can result in the necessary amputation of the limb or lead to an overwhelming infection (sepsis) and death. The Virtual Doctors service provided a quick response and after taking guidance from Max, our Paediatric surgeon, the CO was able to treat the injury appropriately. The patient made a full recovery, avoiding a journey to the hospital, difficult because of his injury, and the CO can now manage and deal with similar cases in the future.

Check our website for Minnie’s blog from the field for more cases like this.

Volunteer Spotlight: our dev team

As promised, we are turning the spotlight this month on the team at Landmark Information Group, who have been long term and loyal supporters. While the original development team was much larger, the core members are now Jon Ody, Nick Ward and Lavan Naillanathan (below). Jon commented on his Virtual Doctors experience:

"Volunteering for the Virtual Doctors has been a very rewarding experience for us all. It has given us the opportunity to put our technical experience to use for a great cause. Developing a telemedicine solution to be used in the field in Zambia has been both exciting and challenging. The limited internet access faced by the Clinical Officers on a daily basis highlights how lucky we are and how we can take having access to the internet for granted. This limitation alone forced us to think in new ways when developing the telemedicine solution. Working with the Virtual Doctors team has been a lot of fun. All the people we have had contact with have been supportive and very committed to the Charity. We all hope Virtual Doctors continues to be a great success and continues making a positive impact to Zambia’s rural communities."

We say a huge thanks to them for their continued support; developing, updating and tweaking the app seems to be a never-ending task and they approach it with great skill and enthusiasm.

We really couldn’t do this without them.

Landmark Information Group.jpg

New additions to our team

We are still looking for volunteers who can make an on-going commitment to help with Social Media and all-round communications — contact Lina if interested.

And finally

Friends with an MP or a peer? Ahead of ParliamentWeek (13-19 November) we are looking for parliamentarians interested in becoming advocates for the Virtual Doctors. Please contact Lina if interested.



March Newsletter

First Anniversary of our App’s launch

It has been almost a year since our custom VDrs App was launched at our very first awareness raising event at the Royal Geographic Society. What a milestone! The App has been designed specifically for the needs of clinical officers in sub-Saharan Africa to aid diagnosis and treatment advice for their patients. The technology also offers efficient and flexible reporting for the charity and the highest standards of data protection for patients.

If you follow us on Social Media, look out for our updates to share them with your circles to help us further raise awareness about the Virtual Doctors.

Congratulations to the Virtual Doctors team at Landmark Information Group who developed the already multi award winning software. They were recently honoured again as recipients of the highly commended team award at the DMGT Community Champions awards dinner. Nick Ward, Dave Clark, Paul Ross and Mark Mimer, CEO of Landmark received the award from Fran Sallas head of the DMGT community champions.

Current Challenge in the field

The devices provided to the Clinical Officers (COs) to use our service, require routine maintenance. However, the distances between Clinics and repair centres have proved challenging due the scarcity of available transport. This means that devices taken out of the field can take time to be repaired and returned to the Clinical Officer, who find themselves unable to use our service. Therefore, we require a number of standby devices already set up and ready to deploy as soon as an existing device is taken out for repair. This calls for more funds and as ever, we rely on you, our supporters, to help us with their donations.

On the upside, we are glad to announce that after Siavonga early this year, we have expanded into another new district, Luangwa, a deep rural district on the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique close to the Zambezi River. With 6 Rural Health Centres set up, this increases the number of sites we support to a total of 31 (29 Rural Health Centres and 2 District Hospitals).


And hot off the press: the Luangwa District Health Director has requested our service for Luangwa District Hospital, which will be set up within the next week.



Zambian High Commission hosts Board Meeting

A meeting of the Board of Trustees was held in the Zambian High Commission in London. The event, held on 2nd March, was kindly made possible by the High Commissioner His Excellency Mr Muyeba Chikonde who attended the post meeting reception with his deputy Mrs Patricia Sikaala Chanda. The casual lunch reception was also attended by volunteers, giving them an opportunity to meet the Trustees as well as other volunteers. Another highlight of the meeting was appointment of two new trustees, James Phiri and Naggib Chakhane, bringing the number of serving trustees to eight.

Zambian News

We’re very happy to announce that Stellah, our Field Assistant in Zambia, has given birth to a baby girl. Born on 1st March, weighing 3.9kg (8lb5oz); she’s been named Fran after our Medical Director. Congratulations Stellah and welcome to the Virtual Doctors family baby Fran.

In other local news in March, Zambia beat Senegal 2-0 in the under-20s Africa Cup of Nations, joining the top four teams at the tournament qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup taking place this May in South Korea.-i




February Newsletter

Already February!

It has been an exciting start of the year for us as the Virtual Doctors have introduced their service to four new sites in Siavonga district in Zambia’s southern province. Phallon and Tyrell have been in Siavonga training clinical officers who will then deliver the service at their rural health centres in Matua, Chaanga, Sianyolo and Kariba.

Some of the Siavonga Clinical Officers getting familiar with the VDrs system

Some of the Siavonga Clinical Officers getting familiar with the VDrs system



Siavonga. on the shores of Lake Kariba, is a popular tourist destination, it’s also a large district stretching inland from the Lake and beyond the holiday resorts are many remote communities that can benefit from the virtual Doctors’ service.

Our people in Zambia

As the sites multiply and our service grows across Zambia, so has the team of people on the ground! In this issue we would like to turn the spotlight on all our collaborators in the field.

Dr Phallon Mwaba has been appointed on a contractual part time basis as our In-Country Lead In Zambia. As well as overseeing Virtual Doctors operations in Zambia he is our link between the Head Office in the UK and the medical hierarchy in Zambia; he will train new Clinical Officers, support existing ones and join forces with Tyrell at the ministry. He is also part of our volunteer team of medical professionals. Dr Mwaba trained as a medical doctor at the University of Zambia’s School of Medicine and then went on to do a master in Global health at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He has experience in clinical work as well as hospital and District level management of primary health care through his work in hospitals as well as through management at District Medical Offices in Slavonga and Kazungula.




Tyrell Junius. an American national who has been living and working in Zambia for the past 3 years, has been very supportive as a general liaison agent on the ground for the Virtual Doctors for about a year now, supporting our Clinical Officers and coordinating our agenda at the Ministry of Health amongst many other tasks.




Stellah Chilembo. is from Lusaka and works as a field assistant in support of Phallon. Stellah is responsible for liaising with the Clinical Officers who use the Virtual Doctors service as well as carrying out patient feedback surveys.





Last but not least: our Zambia office bearers



Dr Boniface Fundafunda, Managing Director at Medical Stores Limited, has over 20 years of work experience ¡n both the public and the private sectors, as well as the UN agencies and provides the Virtual Doctors with guidance. particularly on engagement with the Ministry of Health. I589t




Mr Muyunda Muyinda is Enterprise Director at AirTei Zambia. With his wide-ranging corporate experience, he has been providing precious business advice as well as opening many doors in Zambia to the Virtual Doctors.





Volunteers under the Spotlight

Huge thanks to the people of Lewes Christ Church whose adoption has just come to an end raising a very generous £2160. The Virtual Doctors have now been adopted by The United Church ¡n Dorchester for 2017; many thanks to Joy for making this connection and we look forward to a successful year of fundraising and spreading news of the Virtual Doctors work through these new friends.

If your association is Interested in adopting the Virtual Doctors as their charity please get in touch!

And finally

To make it easier for people to find us on Companies House register, we have renamed our registered name for our incorporated organisational element from Virtual Development UK to the Virtual Doctors Ltd. We will continue to operate the charity as the Virtual Doctors and this name change is for administrative purposes only and does not change the ethos and goals of the organisation and how we undertake our work delivering a complementary telemedicine service