The secret to success is the volunteer community health workers who work along side the formally trained staff at the clinics. Some days while we were at Sefula there was only one nurse on staff and no doctor, so the bulk of the work was handled by these community health workers. Previously these personnel were working with no formal training, but the Zambian government is currently working on a initiative to formalize and standardize the roles of community health workers. This will allow better care and more efficient services to be provided in clinics like Sefula. According to a pilot study, having support for staff from government entities improved moral and job satisfaction for health workers in Zambia. During our time at Sefula we witnessed one such example of support from the local government. The clinic was up for a semi-annual review and all of the staff, including ourselves, attended a meeting. The clinic received several encouraging commendations from the provincial ministry of health staff.
Besides attending meetings, we were able to participate in many different activities while at Sefula. A highlight for us was the antenatal visits. It was the most hands-on experience we had, and was new learning for us, which was exciting. We got to see assessments and care of women that was similar to what we've seen at home. During one particular experience at home, Johanna got to see how midwives in Penticton practices and noticed that even the equipment they used was very similar to what was in use here. They used a fetal scope at home, and they used one here. It was exciting to learn and see practices that are directly applicable to working in Canada, because much of what we learn here is valuable in an indirect way.
We are very grateful for the time we got to spend at Sefula and we will miss the wonderful staff who work there!
WHO. (2011). Zambia's National Community Health Worker Strategy. Retrieved from www.who.int/workforcealliance/forum/
WHO. (2006). Zambia pilot study of performanced based incentives. Retrieved from www.who.int/management/