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Torbay Hospital link charity gets major grant boost

By This is SouthDevon  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

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Torbay Hospital has been awarded a major grant which will help reduce death and disability from traumatic injury in one of the world’s poorest countries.

The grant of £210,000 was awarded by the Tropical Health and Education Trust, funded by the Department for International Development. It will be used to improve care in the Laikipia District in Kenya through the link Torbay has formed with Nanyuki Hospital.

Around 100 million injuries are sustained worldwide annually; 5.8 million of them resulting in death and many more in permanent disability, deformity and pain. A shocking 90% of these events occur in poorer countries. In Kenya there is no pre-hospital care, traditional emergency departments do not exist and operating facilities are very limited. Even simple fractures may never receive attention due to lack of funds, supplies or knowledge.

Orthopaedic surgical missions to developing countries are rare due to their high cost and difficulties in transporting equipment. The relationship between Torbay and Nanyuki started in 2008 when Dr Lucy Obolensky, who has undertaken charitable work in Kenya for 15 years and is currently a GP Trainee at Torbay Hospital, was asked by Nanyuki’s only surgeon at the time, Dr Ndanya, if she could coordinate an orthopaedic project to Nanyuki.

Since then Dr Obolensky has organised four projects in Nanyuki taking teams of NHS staff, mostly from Torbay but also Derriford and other hospitals in the South West. The teams include surgeons, anaesthetists, radiographers, Operating Department Practitioners and scrub nurses, who provide a trauma and orthopaedic service. The last project also included Emergency Department doctors and nurses and delivery of educational courses, designed by team members, to improve the care of patients before and after surgery.

An excellent relationship has developed between the two hospitals and the Torbay-Nanyuki THET partnership was formalised in November 2011 with both Chief Executives endorsing a Memorandum of Understanding.

To date, the projects have been made possible by the fundraising efforts of individual team members and the charities Exploring Global Health Opportunities and Medical & Educational Aid to Kenya. This grant will enable the Torbay team to expand considerably on the existing projects by helping Nanyuki Hospital to establish an ambulance service and emergency department, as well as developing the existing operating theatre, ward and rehabilitation arrangements. There are further plans to set up education in the community to raise awareness of the causes of injury, how to prevent it, and basic first aid skills when transferring people to hospital.

Dr Kerri Jones, Consultant Anaesthetist & Associate Medical Director for Torbay Hospital, and one of the project leads, said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have been awarded this grant. The difference in healthcare provision between our two communities is tragic. Nanyuki staff have a great desire to improve what they can offer their community and we want to help them. It is also fantastic to offer our staff the opportunity to work in Kenya as we too learn a great deal and bring back amazing experiences which enhance our lives and work here.”

Commenting on the Health Partnerships Scheme, the International Development Minister, Lynne Featherstone said: "We are delighted to support the Health Partnership Scheme. Through the scheme, British medical expertise is used to help give developing countries the vital skills needed to improve the health of some of the world's poorest people. British nurses, midwives and medical teams are amongst the best in the world and they will help make a real difference in some of the poorest parts of the world.”

Fundraising by team members for existing projects continues in earnest, the latest event being a ‘Concert for Kenya’ on Saturday 20th October when local choirs and drama groups will entertain the public at St Matthias Church Torquay. Compere for the night will be Palm FM’s Kevin Oates. Tickets are just £5 and can be obtained by phoning 01803 655622.

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