Donors making a difference: building skills, building capacity

A well-trained workforce is essential for reaching universal health coverage. WHO supports training across the globe and across the professional spectrum.

This week we visit Samoa, where emergency medical teams are rehearsing for cyclone season; India, where trainees are learning to stop disease-carrying pests; and Malaysia, where health workers are gaining the skills to care for patients living with dementia.

Read on for those stories, along with reports of capacity building in Ethiopia, Haiti, Mauritania, Palestine and Zimbabwe.

Samoa hones its disaster-response skills

The Samoa Emergency Medical Team responded to a fictional cyclone scenario in November to cap off five days of training supported by WHO and the Australia and New Zealand governments.

The group rehearsed setting up and operating mobile clinics for a mass-casualty event.

“Trained medical responders who can reach affected populations quickly are extremely important in the effort to save lives during emergencies,” said Dr Kim Eva Dickson, WHO Head of Office in Samoa. Read more

WATCH THE VIDEO: In Samoa, medical emergency teams start their training

Mauritania’s new emergency-response teams clear their first hurdle

HO’s Regional Office for Africa has helped train Mauritania’s new emergency-response teams to quickly locate and stop disease outbreaks before they can become epidemics.

Since August 2022, the teams have responded to eight emergencies, and in one case, headed off an outbreak of Rift Valley fever. The first sign of trouble was miscarriage among camels; the team immediately traveled to the scene and identified Rift Valley fever, a life-threatening virus that affects animal and humans.

“We had to act quickly to avoid the emergence of epidemics whose immediate effects and consequences are very serious for our population’s health,” said Dr Abbad El Moctar Mohamed, an epidemiologist with Mauritania’s ministry of health.

Similar WHO-supported training has been held in Botswana, Niger, Nigeria and Togo. Read more

Participants from seven countries build their entomology knowledge to fight disease-carrying bugs

WHO and partners are preparing entomologists and others who work in vector control to fight back better against mosquitoes and other disease-carrying bugs.

A recent training week at the Vector Control Research Center in Puducherry, India, drew participants from Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste.

“The exchange of ideas with participants from different countries, learning from shared experiences and their best practices, helped us learn various strategies beyond borders,” said Dr Surajita Banerjee, State Entomologist from West Bengal, India.

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other insects disproportionately affect the world’s poor, particularly in tropical and subtropical areas. In WHO’s South-East Asia Region, vector-borne diseases of public importance include kala-azar, dengue, chikungunya, malaria, lymphatic filariasis and Japanese encephalitis. Read more

Training helps scale up mental health services in Palestine

Hundreds of health workers in Palestine are learning to identify and treat mental health conditions with support from WHO’s Mental Health Gap Action Programme and the Big Heart Foundation.

Palestine lacks the mental health facilities and services to keep up with demand. Training other health professionals to address signs of mental illness helps fill the gap.

“Since receiving the training, I am much more aware that physical and mental health problems can often be treated simultaneously,” said Ibrahim, an intensive care nurse at the European Gaza Hospital. “This is a new way of working for me and is helping me understand and treat my patients better. After all, the mind and body are very closely linked. One can’t do well without the other.” Read more

More from Palestine:

Better technology means less hassle for patients and health workers

A new paperless system has dramatically streamlined patient-information management at three primary health facilities in the Gaza Strip. Physicians can now record patient history, display test results, write prescriptions, order tests, receive clinical reminders and print instructions – all through a single platform.

Patients who once dreaded doctor visits because of long queues and confusing paperwork have been pleasantly surprised by the smooth operation made possible by the new system.

“I came in, was given my number and saw the doctor without having to wait. Now, I’m on my way to the laboratory to get some tests,” said Riyad, a patient. “The doctor has already sent the test request to the laboratory, and I do not need to carry any papers there.” Read more

Training supports workers on the frontlines of Haiti’s cholera response

Hundreds of community health workers in Haiti have mobilized to stop cholera, with training supported by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

“We are on the ground, despite the difficult situation in the country,” said Esterline Dumézil, a community health worker since 2014. “This is our duty as community health workers, of which we are very proud.”

The workers disseminate life-saving information in most-affected communities and let people know how to prevent cholera and seek early treatment. The personal approach complements mass distribution of text messages, daily radio broadcasts and other outreach activities. Read more

Related: Zimbabwe strengthens capacity to fight cholera and typhoid outbreaks

Ethiopia expands community health insurance with donor training and support

Ethiopia is making progress toward universal health coverage by building its knowledge of financing for community-based health insurance – an effort supported with training from WHO, the World Bank and the P4H Social Health Protection Network.

Access to affordable health insurance has been steadily expanding in the country, saving many families from sinking under medical bills.

“This (insurance) has really helped our family to stay afloat,” said Misrak Fisseha of Addis Ababa, whose 68-year-old mother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2019. “I can now care for my mother and raise my daughter without having to worry about how to pay for medical expenses.” Read more

In Malaysia, WHO supports training for caregivers of people with dementia

WHO has been collaborating with the Malaysia Ministry of Health and the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia to provide dementia-care skills training. Participants learn the symptoms of dementia, person-centered care, effective communication and more.

“Sometimes, I, too, get upset. But then I remind myself that the difficult behavior is caused by the disease,” said Dilgeet Kaur A/P Garanan Singh, a caretaker at the Golden Age Welfare Association Malaysia. “We cannot change the personality of people living with dementia. We need to adapt our own behavior to match their personality.”

Source: World Health Organization