13 November 2017

Tanzania: KCMC Competes for Health Service Journal Award

THE Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) and the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust of the UK have been working in partnership for over fifteen years, training over 4,000 Tanzanians in a variety of healthcare professions.

Their link has undertaken a number of projects to improve a range of healthcare services in the hospital and at wider country level. Such partnership has been recognized internationally as the two institutions have been lined up for HSJ Awards Competition 2017 in London, the UK.

Health Service Journal (HSJ) has thus recognized and celebrated the way such partnership has been beneficial to the two institutions, their staff, the patients and people generally as it is changing life for the better through provision of better and sustainable health services.

HSJ Editor, Mr Alastair McLellan says that NHS (Britain's National Health Service system) continues to innovate and excel, as the 36th HSJ Awards clearly demonstrate and that it has many claims to fame, and one of them is that its restless desire to improve provides the inspirational content for the world's biggest celebration of healthcare excellence. "Competition has once again been fierce. Congratulations to all that have made the grade.

Entrants demonstrated outstanding practice and innovation, which help to safeguard and improve patient care, improve value and efficiency in healthcare and have been judged to be leading the way in this increasingly important area.

The awards received more than 1,500 entries. The shortlisted organisations will now complete presentations and interviews to a specific judging panel made up of senior and influential figures from the health sector. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 22 November at the Intercontinental O2, London," says the editor.

With about 1,500 entrants across 23 categories to choose from, the awards, held in partnership with de Poel health+care, reflect the full spectrum of the sector's services and challenges.

The HSJ Awards have grown to become the most sought after accolade in British healthcare - and the largest awards program of its type in the world. Dr Kondo Chilonga is the Head of General Surgery at KCMC while Ms Brenda Longstaff is the Head of International Partnerships Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The duo says the partnership enters the competition under 'International Partnership Award' that has been introduced for the first time to acknowledge the growing importance of international partnerships in health issues. The category has roughly 150 contestants.

It should be recalled that in 2016, the United Nations officially announced 17 global sustainable development goals. The good health and wellbeing goal envisages a series of improvements, including significant reductions in maternal and child mortality; support for the development of vaccines for diseases that affect low income countries; and universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services. Successful partnerships between NHS organisations and their counterparts in low and middle income countries are vital to realizing these ambitions. To be shortlisted for the award means a lot in recognizing such partnerships.

HSJ are seeking examples of strong and reciprocal relationships that lead to demonstrable improvements for citizens in low and middle income countries as well as for NHS service users.

Judges would be seeking projects which exemplify the THET (Tropical Health and Education Trust) principles of partnership. Dr Chilonga who is also the 'father' of laparoscopic surgery in the country having attained the expertise from the UK says "criteria used in selection are that partnership achieve sustainable change in health provision, it benefits both parties, special focus on development of a unit - and in that, the focus has been on improving theatres and initiation of laparoscopic surgery".

There is ambition aspect in that a clear rationale for the partnership and program is paraded, an explanation of how the work drew on existing best practice and a clear alignment with the local and national plans of the low and middle income country and a clear strategy to strengthen the country's health workforce are shown.

HSJ wants also see the outcome; that is evidence of improvements in healthcare outcomes in the low or middle income country as well as related improvements in the NHS. This is to be quantitative, but can also include a qualitative aspect.

There must be evidence of improved access to health services as a result of the project. Spread and value are also on the cards - evidence the partnership shares results and learning widely and that the approach taken by the partnership is replicable.

Also evidence that the partnership has led to improved value in the delivery of health services - this could be through improved quality and/or through improved financial efficiency. To be shown also is evidence that the partnership is well structured and well managed, using resources efficiently.

On involvement side, to be demonstrated is a strong engagement at all levels in both the NHS organisation and the organisation in the low or middle income country. Strong engagement with national regulatory, governance and research bodies and/or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).

Expounding on the matter, Ms Longstaff says their partnership has greatly improved theatres with ultrasound outreach services in several places, for example Bomang'ombe and Machame in Hai District and Kibosho in Moshi Rural District.

The duo said the service has immensely helped pregnant women be checked at early stages, detect any complication and attend the same accordingly. "Entering the competition and ultimately being shortlisted is really a huge achievement for our institutions and their people because some of entrants are in major British Government projects. We are actually competing with the giants in health service delivery system," says Ms Longstaff.

Dr Chilonga says the cooperation between the two institutions that that has marked more than 15 years matters a lot and leaves behind great impact, saying there were many challenges but determination has always kept them going on and aiming high.

KCMC has scooped a top global award on modern surgical technique, outshining more than 200 institutions in 2014 and Dr Kondo Chilonga was presented with the award at Westminster, London. He has since trained many other surgeons on laparoscopic surgery that is also referred to as minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery.

The surgeons undergo short courses at KCMC are from the same institution, Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam, Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza and Mbeya Referral Zonal Hospital, among others.

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