Friday, 11 April 2008

Mentoring healthcare professionals in the developing world

By: Zahir Osman Eltahir

I spoke earlier this week to one of my GU colleagues who returned recently from a six-week trip to South Africa. She was very excited telling me about her mentoring experience in South Africa. She joined an NGO called International Center for Equal Healthcare Access (ICEHA) which collaborates with sister organisations working in HIV care. The latter has to be engaged in a partnership with local bodies, e.g. Ministry of Health or other national agencies.

My colleague's role, along with another expatriate nurse practitioner from the US, was to support clinicians working in a government-run HIV clinic. This involved a one-to-one training in WHO guidelines on the management of HIV/AIDS, improving note-keeping systems, basic management of drugs and other consumables, etc. My colleague made it clear that they wanted to work with what's available locally rather than imposing solutions from outside that are unlikely to be sustained in the long run.

While listening to her, my mind kept travelling to Sudan and I wished I, or others, could do a similar job. HIV/AIDS care in Sudan is still in its infancy and the high degree of stigma attached to its name make medical practitioners steer away from taking part in it. This will ultimately result in undermining an already struggling service.

For further information on ICEHA model, please visit their website at