June update: Field trip to Zambia AND Malawi
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.