Zimbabwe Life Project wins EPUT chair award

October 14, 2020

An EPUT project working with the government of Zimbabwe to improve mental health services was one of the big winners at the trust’s annual staff awards

The Zimbabwe Life Project (ZLP) was joint winner of the chair’s clinical award at the recent Quality Awards at EPUT.

ZLP is celebrating two years of partnership in Zimbabwe and the voluntary work of a team of mental health nurses from EPUT is now formally recognised by the Zimbabwe government and NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The initiative was created by Lucia Vambe, Practice Development Lead Nurse at EPUT. Lucia was born in Zimbabwe and moved to the UK to begin a career in nursing more than 25 years ago. She has been a mental health nurse for 15 years and came up with the Zimbabwe Life Project as a way of using her experience to help improve patient care in Zimbabwe.

A team of 20 nurses, physiotherapists and doctors from EPUT and colleagues from Essex County Council and other NHS organisations travelled to Zimbabwe in 2018 and 2019 to share their expertise with two of the country’s largest mental health hospitals. The training programme was developed by the group in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care. Around 150 staff attended the workshops from three main hospitals, a rehabilitation centre and a prison.

The project has also supported the development of drug and alcohol services and a student nurse programme.   Members of ZLP have presented at both national and international mental health conferences on the project and impact of the workshops.

Lucia said: “This is a great achievement for everyone involved.  The passion and goodwill of NHS and social care colleagues is helping to make a difference to mental health services in Zimbabwe. Despite working in difficult conditions, the staff in Zimbabwe are dedicated and want to do all they can for their patients. This partnership is about sharing knowledge and experiences and to ultimately help improve patient care.”

Membership has grown over the past year and ZLP is now registered as a Charity Incorporated Organisation in UK, which will support the future of the project.

The ZLP volunteers raise funds and send medical donations to the hospitals in Zimbabwe where there is a shortage of supplies. You can donate to this cause via ZLP website: https://zlp.org.uk/