Human resources are an essential component of every healthcare system in the world. The World Health Organisation states that ‘Developing capable, motivated and supported health workers is essential for overcoming bottlenecks to achieve national and global health goals.’1
Over eighteen years of delivering humanitarian projects across Europe, Asia and Africa, we have witnessed the impact of a lack of adequately trained health workers, on health outcomes. A doctor who sees a hundred patients in a day cannot be expected to provide safe care. With several patients in the room at the same time and no more than a couple of minutes available per patient, the only option for a doctor in this situation, is to just dish out pills, without any attempt to make a diagnosis. Signs of severe illness are missed, cues about psychological trauma or gender-based violence are ignored and there are no systems in place to report vital information to centralised co-ordination agencies.
Unfortunately, there are also many charitable organisations also delivering this poor level of care, either through lack of knowledge of healthcare standards or lack of specialist medical input.
As a specialist medical charity, we focus first and foremost on the quality of the healthcare provision that we support and promote, even in the extremely difficult context of a humanitarian emergency. We are accountable to donors who provide the funds to allow projects to continue, to the staff we hire and to colleagues who we collaborate with in the field, and, most importantly, to the patients who trust us to provide safe and effective care.
In response to the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar / Bangladesh, we have launched our ‘Human Resources for Refugee Health Programme’. The first component of this programme is a Postgraduate Fellowship in Refugee Health. The entire course will be developed and delivered by highly skilled and experienced doctors, based in the UK and in Bangladesh, and will consist of seven modules covering critical issues in humanitarian medicine, such as infectious diseases, mental health and gender-based violence.
We are working with our Bangladeshi partners to recruit and enrol local doctors onto the programme and our first group of volunteers will travel to Bangladesh to start the pilot project at the end of February.
We will be training 60 frontline health care workers, including doctors, who are working with various charities in the camps. This work will impact the lives of an estimated 60-90,000 Rohingya refugees.
In order to develop and deliver this innovative educational project and to maintain our high standard of quality throughout, we need a minimum of £100,000 in funding. Provided the pilot project is successful, we will be looking for funds to expand the project, in order to train more healthcare workers and ultimately, to reach more patients.
We also need more volunteer doctors to help us in developing training materials and to travel to Bangladesh to teach and supervise our local colleagues. Please contact us if you would like to be part of this project. Follow our social media posts to learn more about the projects and to follow the experiences of current volunteers.