Why Have a link?
The link between Glan Clwyd hospital and Hossana was set up in 2006 as part of an NHS-wide initiative encouraging links between health institutions in the UK and
hospitals in developing countries. The link received support from the
Tropical Health Education Trust at the outset, and we are grateful for financial
backing from Wales for Africa and the BMA Humanitarian Fund subsequently.
The first visit of North Wales staff to Ethiopia took place in November 2005. Visits
have continued on a yearly or twice yearly basis since then, involving a wide
mixture of doctors, nurses, technical (EBME, estates), and managerial staff.
On four occasions, staff from Hossana have come to North Wales to raise the profile
of the link, to teach medical and nursing staff, ad to experience medicine in a
What's the point?
So what is the point of linking two hospitals in such different settings? We are worlds away from each other, surely? In many ways, that is exactly why the link has come about. Our common aim is to provide good care for those we look after - and there are many ways in which we can help each other in this. So, the aims of the link are
What can we teach one another?
The kinds of healthcare offered in the two hospitals are very different - but there is no doubt that we can both learn from each other.
So staff from Glan Clwyd can learn a great deal about tropical medicine, for example HIV/AIDS in a sub-Saharan setting, malaria, TB, typhoid, acute severe malnutrition and so on. Glan Clwyd staff learn about healthcare problems in a global setting, and about working with really scarce resources. As the years have passed, Glan Clwyd staff have developed great respect for the knowledge and understanding of their counterparts in Hossana - who have to take on huge responsibilities at an early stage, and who deal with massive workloads of often very sick patients.
And staff from Hossana can learn from their UK colleagues. Teaching of health officers and Masters students has become a regular feature of visits to Hossana - covering topics as different as infection control, trauma management, paediatrics and acute medicine. In 2015 we jointly ran two BASIC DHS courses in Hossana, which are designed to teach doctors and nurses how to recognise and manage critically ill patients in a developing health setting. The BASIC DHS course faculty included staff from Glan Clwyd hospital and from Hossana hospital.
Hossana staff visiting North Wales have attended specific courses such as ATLS to gain insight into current clinical thinking in the UK.
Wider health and social issues
Many health and social problems that are grappled with in the UK are less of an issue in Ethiopia. For example, Ethiopians lay great emphasis on the importance of the family, so old people are looked after within the family - by the whole family. Smoking is very much less prevalent in Ethiopia; breast feeding rates are much higher; people walk everywhere, and have generally very healthy diets. Obesity is not a problem in Ethiopia... Weighing scales in the streets are to ensure that you are not losing weight - in stark contrast to those in the UK!
In addition to teaching an mutual education, the link has supported a number of infrastructure projects in Hossana - see infrastructure under information
An offshoot link - the eye link
Since 2007, the link has extended from Hossana hospital to incorporate a link between the eye unit in HM Stanley hospital in North Wales and its counterpart in Yirga Alem hospital, whose eye unit also serves Hossana hospital. Subsequently, the HM Stanley eye department has moved to become the Stanley eye unit at Abergele hospital, and the link has migrated from Yirga Alem eye department to the eye department in Hawassa Referral hospital. See the Eye Link page
And now a primary care link....
In 2014. a preliminary visit took place by a North Wales general practitioner, with a view to exploring the possibility of a link between general practice surgeries local to Glan Clwyd hospital, and their equivalent in Ethiopia - the health centres around Hossana. Two further visits occurred in 2015, and the project is taking shape. See the Primary Care Link page