Zimbabwe Life Project formally recognised by Zimbabwe Government

October 14, 2019

The Zimbabwe Life Project team at Parirenyatwa Hospital

The voluntary work of a team of mental health nurses from the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) has been formally recognised by the Zimbabwe Government.

Nine nurses and a physiotherapist from EPUT travelled to Zimbabwe on September 21 to share their expertise with colleagues working at two of the country’s largest mental health hospitals as part of an initiative known as the Zimbabwe Life Project.

Lucia Vambe with Dr Obdiah Moyo

During their trip, the team, which also included colleagues from other NHS Foundation Trusts, Essex County Council and private hospitals, was invited to meet Dr Obdiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Childcare.

They are now working on a Memorandum of Understanding, setting out an official agreement of the working relationship between the project and the Ministry of Health and Childcare in Zimbabwe.

Lucia, a Practice Development Lead Nurse at EPUT and Founder of the Zimbabwe Life Project, came up with project as a way of supporting mental health services and helping improve quality of care in a country close to her heart.

Lucia was born in Zimbabwe but moved to the UK 28 years ago where she became a mental health nurse. She decided to do something to help when she witnessed hospitals in Zimbabwe functioning with limited staff and supplies during a visit to see a family member who had been taken unwell.

The two-week visit was the second of its kind for the Zimbabwe Life Project Team and saw the team deliver a series of clinical workshops to staff at Ingutsheni Hospital in Bulawayo and Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.

The team also donated much-needed medical supplies to the hospitals where there is a shortage of supplies.

The equipment, which included defibrillators, blood pressure monitors, bandages, syringes, disposable gloves and mobility aids, is deemed to have reached the end of its life in the UK.

The team have now returned from their trip and are hoping to build on its success.

Lucia said: “This trip was about us making a difference to care in Zimbabwe by engaging with our counterparts to exchange knowledge, skills and experiences and I hope we have succeeded in that. It was a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

“Everyone we met in Zimbabwe was so grateful to us for making the trip and for donating medical supplies. They will make a huge difference. Despite working in difficult conditions and with limited resources, the staff are committed to providing the best care they can.

“I am confident the trip has strengthened our professional relationship with colleagues and I would like to thank every member of the team whose unwavering dedication made it all possible.”

The team used their own annual leave and funded their travel expenses to make the trip. They also received a grant from the Burdette Trust, an independent charitable trust that supports nurse-led projects seeking to make improvements in patient care.