The Link was established in 2005, building on discussions between Melanie Newport and Dr Peter Mwaba who was then the Medical Director at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka. There was clear potential for a health partnership between the organisations they each worked at given their similar roles– university teaching hospitals that trained doctors and nurses whilst providing specialised hospital care for their communities. Advice was sought from THET (www.thet.org), a charity founded by Professor Sir Eldryd Parry to support health partnerships between UK hospitals and their counterparts in low-income countries and the Brighton Lusaka Health Link took off.
With a small grant from THET, a team of four from Brighton visited UTH to meet Zambian colleagues from many different health disciplines. Areas were identified where working together could have big impact on improving health care in Lusaka. Two areas in particular stood out – providing better care for people who were unwell as a result of HIV infection and developing the role of nurses more widely to empower them to make a difference.
These two areas were combined to underpin our highly successful first project – the HIV Nurse Education Project. We went on to set up a number of projects in paediatrics, in response to the concern at UTH caused by the number of children who were dying from preventable causes. Projects include the development of the first paediatric nursing course in Zambia and acute life support training for children of all ages from birth upwards
Brighton Lusaka Health Link (BLHL) was registered as a UK charity in September 2011. It is a separate organisation from BSUH NHS Trust and is governed by a board of Trustees which meets every three months. There are also Open meetings at regular intervals where updates on BLHL activities are presented to a general audience – anyone with an interest in the Link is welcome.