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Nicholaus and Neema swap Tanzania for Northumbria

Thursday, 29 December, 2016
Nicholaus and Neema swap Tanzania for Northumbria

A doctor and nurse have swapped Tanzania for Northumberland and North Tyneside to learn valuable skills and experience of the NHS as part of a pioneering international health link.

Dr Nicholaus Mazuguni and nurse Neema Natai spent time at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to gain learning to share with colleagues back home.

The pair, who both work at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Tanzania, completed Commonwealth Professional Fellowships at the trust.

Northumbria Healthcare is at the forefront of international partnerships in the NHS and has a number of long-standing and successful links. For more than 15 years Northumbria teams have provided training and support to staff at KCMC to transform patients’ experiences.

This has included the setting up of ultrasound services in poor rural communities and introducing laparoscopic surgery as a new service for Tanzania.

Over the last five years, Northumbria teams have also helped to support the development of a burns service which culminated in the opening of Tanzania’s first dedicated burns unit in October. The team was accompanied by doctors in training with Health Education North East who delivered teaching to medical students and nursing students.

Northumbria’s next projects will focus on improving patients’ experiences in maternity and intensive care which have been bolstered by Nicholaus’ and Neema’s placements.

It was the second visit to Northumbria for Nicholaus who first came to the trust in 2007 as a medical student, an experience which inspired him to choose obstetrics and gynaecology as his speciality. Nine years later, he has returned as an obstetric and gynaecological consultant with a specific interest in laparoscopic gynaecological procedures and infertility.

During his time at Northumbria, Nicholaus spent time observing how gynaecological care is delivered in clinics, on the wards and in theatre where the latest advanced techniques are used.

Nicholaus said: “I was delighted to return to Northumbria and I have gained valuable experience of how gynaecological care is delivered here in the NHS.

“This visit has been a real eye-opener for me and there are many elements of the service provided that we can adapt and use. For example the rapid access clinics at Northumbria where all investigations are carried out in a single appointment are excellent and something we’d hope to explore developing back home.

“While laparoscopic surgery is commonplace in the UK, it’s only starting to be used in Tanzania. The knowledge I have gained here will help us to continue our efforts to introduce this in more surgical areas as the benefits this could bring to gynaecological patients, and ease congestion on our wards, are immense.”

While at Northumbria, Nicholaus also had a unique opportunity to visit the Centre for Life in Newcastle to learn about specialist, highly-advanced fertility treatments which are currently not available in Tanzania.

Neema has worked in the intensive care unit at KCMC for 14 years and is one of the senior nursing sisters. The Northumbria visit was the first time she had left Tanzania and she spent time in the intensive care unit at The Northumbria hospital and with the tissue viability, which deals with skin and soft tissue wounds, and infection control teams.

Neema said: “I’ve really enjoyed my placement at Northumbria Healthcare and learning from the teams both in hospital and in the community.

“It’s been a fascinating experience for me to be able to see how care is delivered in the UK and the practices in use. While the principles of high quality patient care are the same, I have been staggered by the equipment in use here.

“Due to the high numbers of patients we have on our wards at KCMC, infection control is more of an issue for us and while we don’t have the equipment you have, we try our hardest with the resources we have, and improvise where we can, to provide the best care we can for our patients.

“I’ll take a great deal back with me from my time here and am extremely grateful for the opportunity.”

Brenda Longstaff, head of international partnerships at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We were delighted to welcome Nicholaus and Neema to our trust. They have had a great visit and packed a lot into a short time.

“Their visit, funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, will help us to take forward two very important projects in maternal care and intensive care. We’re sure that with the skills and knowledge gained from their visit they will return to KCMC with enthusiasm and determination to take our projects forward. This will mean better care for the people of Tanzania.”

Northumbria staff volunteer their time to take part in international partnerships which are supported by the trust’s Bright charity.