Origins and Background
In 2011 with the help of a grant from the British Government a small delegation from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust (NT&H FT) made up of the Chief Executive, Director of Nursing, Medical Director and Consultant Physician visited Battambang Provincial Hospital (BPH) in Cambodia. The aim was to see if there was mutual benefit in establishing a link between the two hospitals and the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Teesside.
Working with Cambodian colleagues Dr. Kak Seila, the Medical Director of BPH and Setan Lee, the Founder of TransformAsia, it was decided to formalise a link through the creation of a charity “Transform Healthcare Cambodia”. It is intended this will be a long term relationship.
Transform Healthcare Cambodia was established to relieve sickness and to promote and protect good health for the benefit of the public, in particular but not exclusively within the Battambang Province through the provision of training to health care workers, education on the prevention of diseases and hygiene, the provision of equipment and financial support for such other health care related services as resources permit.
As agreed between the Medical Director with other senior staff at Battambang Provincial Hospital and the Charity, the first two priorities for action were the care of people with diabetes, and infection prevention & control in the hospital and community clinics.
Diabetes: In Cambodia the diagnosis, management and care of people with diabetes is recognised as a major health issue but is under resourced and inadequate. In 2010 out of a population of around 15 million there were recorded around 8000 deaths in adults related to diabetes.
In rural Battambang province there is limited knowledge about diabetes. Diabetes is diagnosed late, if at all. People with diabetes struggle to buy medication and experience difficulty in seeking follow up resulting in chronic illness, complications and early death. Pregnant women with diabetes may not be treated resulting in serious complications including death of the mother and baby.
The charity delivers training in diabetes management to health care professionals and patient's. This training will help people who currently have diabetes to understand their condition and its treatment better and consequently facilitate better health outcomes.
Infection Prevention & Control: Infection control is a particular challenge within the limited resources and expertise available in the hospital. It is imperative that systems and procedures for the effective management of infection prevention & control are developed and implemented. This requires collaborative discussion and interaction to address what can be seen as a major problem.
Diabetes and infection prevention & control have been identified as priorities however the charity provides a diverse range of services and utilises the knowledge, skills and attributes of health care professionals from various disciplines.
Cambodian staff will gain expertise from UK professional colleagues as well as be able to teach UK staff aspects of Cambodian care. As training packages are developed and Cambodian staff become the educators knowledge and skills will be cascaded to the benefit of patients. It is hoped lasting relationships and friendships will be established.
This will prove to be a richly rewarding development experience which will colour and hopefully improve practice for UK staff when they return. They will experience a different health system and model of care. The biomedical model of clinical care practiced in the west will be challenged. Volunteers will learn of the importance of the holistic care approach practiced in Cambodia involving families incorporating spiritual and cosmic dimensions. They will gain understanding of a different code of medical & nursing ethics. Undoubtedly all will appreciate much more deeply the value of a National Health Service.
Sue Smith, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Chief Nurse, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
Dr. David Emerton, Ex-Medical Director, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
Graham Jones, Senior Lecturer School of Health and Social Care, Teesside University
Claire Young, Ex-Head of Communications, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
Dr. Paul Tynan, General Practitioner
Melanie Pears, Ward Hadaway Law Firm: Legal Representative and Charity Secretary
Jan Tynan, Retired Registered nurse
Keith Griffiths, Finance Director, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
Edwin Pugh, Retired Professor in Public Health