To mark the 100th edition of the NASGP’s The Sessional GP magazine, as well as 2018 being the 20th anniversary of the NASGP, we’ve teamed up with Health Poverty Action’s As One campaign to be our ongoing charity partner.
In 1984 a young British doctor returned from Afghanistan and wrote a vivid account for the Guardian newspaper of his experience working with people living in remote areas, with limited access to healthcare. At the bottom of the article was a request that anyone interested in strengthening health services globally should contact him. The response was overwhelming. Doctors, nurses and development workers assembled to become the first Health Poverty Action staff and set up an organisation that would stand in partnership with isolated communities and health staff around the world for over three decades.
Just as they did in 1984, Health Poverty Action continues to stand with those who are unfairly excluded from the health system. They support incredible health professionals working in tough circumstances across 17 countries globally. Under-resourced health systems, remote locations and discrimination can make it hard for them to do their jobs. With the support of NASGP members, we hope to work ‘As One’ profession to support health professionals worldwide.
Culturally appropriate healthcare
In hard to reach areas in Guatemala, the lack of health centres and resources means the majority of women rely on local Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) to deliver babies. These TBAs do a fantastic job, but until now have had no access to medical training.
Health Poverty Action is providing this training for TBAs, giving them the knowledge to identify danger signs in pregnancy. This means TBAs are now referring their patients to health centres before any medical complications become too serious.
Health Poverty Action also work with health centres and their government to ensure they are held accountable, and to ensure quality, culturally appropriate healthcare is provided to indigenous groups, without discrimination. By educating TBAs and health centre staff, trust has been improved and more patients are being referred to health centres to receive the healthcare they deserve.
Adela is a TBA who has found the training beneficial; “I had a patient who lived a long way. That day the health post was closed. I called the doctor working ‘Dr Julio what can I do? The baby is going to die. It is a serious situation for the mother too…’ Dr Julio came and took my patient to hospital. The doctor was very grateful to me and that we saved the lives.”
By using the training she had received, Adela was able to spot the danger signs in pregnancy and get in touch with the doctor. The doctor respected her knowledge and immediately responded by sending for the ambulance. “He knows us and our attitude. Now they [health centre staff] see us. Before, they wouldn’t pick up the phone... the programme has got us ahead. It encourages us to go to the health centres [during emergencies]. We have confidence and trust that they will receive the patient with good attention and kindly. We used to not have courage as TBAs. Health Poverty Action is always there to help and it’s now a lot better...they are a motor to keep things running.”
Together, these changes are making a huge difference to indigenous people living in remote communities and helping to reduce maternal mortality.
In order to continue supporting health professionals worldwide, we are looking for NASGP members to join the ‘As One’ campaign. You can do this by getting involved in either of the following ways:
Practical support from here in the UK
An opportunity for health professionals here in the UK and abroad to share their expertise with each other. The idea is to learn from one another and exchange knowledge e.g. specialist digital support groups, designing online training, mentoring schemes etc. By sharing values and knowledge, we hope colleagues all over the world can support each other.
We are encouraging UK health professionals to donate medically related costs to build capacity and support other health professionals with additional training and resources. You can donate anything from cremation form fees, the equivalent of paying for a colleague’s lunch, a one off locum fee, price of medical insurance, or even the cost of a journal subscription. To donate click here.
By working with NASGP, its members and other health professionals around the world, we can become a global health movement. We can stand 'As One', as equals, to empower, support one another, and share expertise.