Status: Active response
Status: Active response
October 2021: We kicked off an eight-week programme of remote support for colleagues caring for patients with COVID-19 in Lesotho, with the session ‘Mental health and coping mechanisms during the pandemic’.
The lectures are complemented by a series of clinical case discussions taking place on Fridays. UK-Med members and NHS staff Paul Ransom and Derek Sloan will provide coaching and guidance to colleagues in Lesotho with virtual clinical case management sessions. Participants will bring examples of patients they are currently caring for and discuss with Derek and Paul the best course of treatment. We’re excited to develop further our digital approach to skills exchange!
The programme will culminate with face-to-face training in December, with three UK staff providing an intensive course to consolidate learning over the period.
Lesotho is a landlocked country situated within South Africa, with a population of 2.1 million. When the Ministry of Health sent out a request for support, the number of confirmed cases had risen to 10,461 cases with 285 deaths (recorded on 23 February).
The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the ongoing health issues that the country faces, with other endemic diseases including HIV/AIDS and tuberculous.
The Lesotho Ministry of Health had worked hard to step up its response to the pandemic, putting in place isolation facilities and increased critical and intensive care capacity. However, the sudden spike in cases following the Christmas holiday period put severe strain on these facilities and the capacity of medical staff.
As in many countries, specialist equipment and staff with relevant experience of treating severe respiratory virus infections were in short supply.
“Lesotho welcomes this vital clinical support which comes at the opportune time when the country is relooking into its strategies and strengthening them to become effective and resilient in dealing with the dynamism of this COVID-19 virus.” - Hon. Semano Sekatle, Minister of Health for Lesotho
Led by UK-Med’s Veronique Urbaniak, a medical doctor and humanitarian health programme specialist, the team of nine included a risk communications and community engagement (RCCE) advisor, doctors and nurses specialising in critical care and infection prevention and control, and Rory Peters, a logistician who provided support on stock management and equipment and bio-medical maintenance.
The team provided clinical assistance on isolation wards at Berea and Mafeteng Hospitals, where they supported local staff with critical care for severe and critical COVID-19 cases, conducted ward rounds, and helped build capacity for the doctors and nurses.
Specialist training was provided for doctors and nurses on a range of topics including COVID-19 case management, oxygen administration and BLS (basic life support). A key part of the deployment was the provision of IPC training for staff, including the hospital’s cleaners and porters, with a particular focus on cleaning, disinfection and waste management.
We also provided RCCE sessions with key partners in the community including schools and police. In the closing weeks of the deployment, we met with district authorities and religious leaders in Mafeteng to discuss prevention SoPs (standard operating procedures) as well as supporting the national RCCE pillar.
We’re grateful to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for UK Aid funding from the British people to fund this important response.