Saturday, 30 July 2011

Supporting Childhood Cancer Care through MedicineAfrica

Georgina Newman, intern at Afrox, tells us about the new project she’s been working on to set up an innovative link between two paediatric oncology units, one based in Edinburgh, the other in Ghana…

As part of its strategy to improve cancer care in Ghana, AfrOx together with World Child Cancer, are supporting a twinning project between the paediatric oncology unit of The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and the paediatric oncology unit of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra. Currently, professionals from Edinburgh travel to Ghana twice a year to deliver workshops that cover a range of issues chosen by the Ghanaian professionals. Unfortunately, there is little opportunity for contact between the teams between the workshops, which is where the innovative website, MedicineAfrica, and my internship come in.

MedicineAfrica is a new website that allows healthcare professionals to give online tutorials to professionals or students in a totally different area. It was originally pioneered in Somaliland and the UK where British psychiatrists gave newly qualified doctors in Somaliland tutorials in mental health and psychiatric care. Because Somaliland has very few experienced doctors and no psychiatrists at all, MedicineAfrica is helping fill a gap in the continual professional development of Somaliland’s new generation of junior doctors. By doing this, MedicineAfrica hopes to increase their motivation and to slow the brain drain.

During my internship, I have been facilitating a link between the Edinburgh and Ghana teams using MedicineAfrica. This involved travelling to Edinburgh in June to teach the Edinburgh team how to use the website. It was the first time I had met the doctors and nurses from Edinburgh; they were lovely and really enthusiastic about the whole project, asking intelligent and perceptive questions about the twinning project. The morning was spent discussing the project and how to take it further and in the afternoon, I taught them how to use MedicineAfrica. During the two hours we spent together, we created medical case studies, tutorials, PowerPoint presentations and gave sample tutorials. Despite the Edinburgh team’s initial wariness of the website, internet breakages, and moments of utter confusion, the team left the session feeling much more confident using the website than they had done previously. 

In July, I then travelled to Ghana to meet the team at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to teach them how to use the website and attempt the first online tutorial between the Edinburgh and Ghana teams. Please read my next post to see how the training in Ghana went..

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