Global Health ENT UK is committed to helping promote and facilitate ENT services in resource-limited settings. There are several ways this is being achieved, through conferences, educational links and research, for examples. One current project relates to Zambia and is a great example of how our committee can help collaborate with other interested groups around the World and with those requesting assistance.
Zambia is certainly resource-poor when it comes to its ENT services. Concern was raised by one of only 4 ENT surgeons (Dr Lufunda Lukama) in the country of 18 million! He recognised a need for help in advancing the ENT services provided in the country and initially he reached out to Johan Fagan in South Africa. The request was passed to our committee and I personally took interest, primarily because I have family in Zambia such that there was an obvious link and incentive to get involved.
Since then, through various ‘zoom’ meetings with Lufunda and with discussion at the Global Health committee’s regular meetings, a plan is forming. Whilst COVID-19 has posed travel restrictions that are delaying some of our goals, much can progress despite this. Our aims are:
- To help train more doctors specifically in ENT; this may involve fellowship programmes where individuals visit other countries, but ultimately will aim for a robust training programme in country. We intend to develop an appropriate curriculum and have various ideas of how this may be delivered, such as through webinars and Internet resources.
- To develop basic ENT treatment guidelines for non-ENT doctors, who are currently obliged to manage so many ENT conditions and cases. Even in the UK a medical student gets little more than a weeks’ placement in ENT! The guidelines will be published by the Zambian government and distributed widely around the country. In reality we hope that they will form a template to be used in other countries, with minor adjustments to make them locally applicable.
- To procure much needed equipment. We are all mindful that guidelines need to be realistic and draw on locally available resources. Yet some progress will only be achieved if new equipment is sourced and Global Health ENT UK is fortunate to have links to charitable donations and medical companies that have already committed to help. When restrictions are lifted, I intend to visit the country to better assess these needs, but Dr Lukama has already done stellar work surveying and publishing what is currently available.
- Hearing loss is a major aspect that needs addressing and for this the need for audiology is paramount, both in testing and in the provision of hearing aids. There is currently one trained audiologist serving the country! We intend to collaborate with our audiology colleagues to help address this, perhaps using remote-learning techniques that have shown to be successful elsewhere or again by fellowship-type arrangements where training is provided outside of Zambia, such as in South Africa.
- As things hopefully progress, research will be considered, another area that Dr Lukama is keen to promote.
This project is to be led by Dr Lukama, in collaboration with other doctors from Botswana, Malawi and South Africa for examples. Our role is to assist, to help identify resources already available, to provide teaching and mentorship both remotely and by visiting the country, and to help with equipment donations. We hope that the project can demonstrate Global Health ENT UKs commitment to such matters and further promote this area of ENT that we are all so keen to help with. We will keep you updated on our progress through this website.
Written by: Matthew Clark (ENT Global Health Committee)