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North Wales health board staff creating partnership links with Kenya Hospital

A team of nurses, doctors, consultants, public health specialists and researchers are working to create new health links between the region and Africa.

“The Betsi Kenya Health Link” was established last year when a group of four clinicians from the health board -along with two support staff – visited Busia County Referral Hospital in Kenya.

In Busia, the average life expectancy for women is just 53 years old. In Wrexham, it’s 83 – a difference of 30 years.

Tony DaSilva, consultant general and vascular surgeon at Wrexham Maelor Hospital is the clinical lead for the project.

“The aim of the link is to exchange skills and expertise between Wales and Africa, and to form a sustainable partnership to tackle health inequalities at home and abroad,” he explained.

“It is our intention, and that of our health board, to continue and to develop this link in support of one of the three pillars of Kenyan Government policy, health access for all.”

Janerose Buyiekha from the health board corporate team is spearheading the partnership and links between the two organisations and has recently fundraised to support the project by walking up Snowdon.

She said: “Here in Wales, we enjoy excellent healthcare free at the point of issue. People in Kenya are not so fortunate.

“We would like to ensure we are able to support the staff and the hospital and help them to meet their needs by whatever means necessary – Snowdon was a breeze in comparison to the daily challenges they face.

“All fundraising support received will help to ensure we can maintain these links and aim to purchase key items on their wish list, which can sometimes be as basic as hospital bed sheets.”

Treatment is limited by individual poverty, and by a lack of staff, skills & equipment within their health service.

During their trips to Africa, the Health Board colleagues help to increase workforce capacity and capability, which in turn creates access to better quality healthcare in the host country. This can mean the difference between life and death to many people in less developed countries.

Humanitarian work also helps the health board and its patients. Colleagues gain invaluable experience of working in constrained environments and new cultures with many different types of patients.

This strengthens their skills set, generates new ideas for application back in Wales, and teaches confident leadership, resilience and resourcefulness. It also provides opportunities for gaining direct experience of global diseases that could pose a risk to Wales, as with the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

The Betsi Kenya Health Link project’s healthcare needs and assets based assessment has been funded by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Wales Africa Grant Scheme, administered by Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

However, the project team are actively fundraising to ensure they have the capacity to offer additional benefits through skills transfer, resources, enhanced facilities and the purchase of 200 bed sheets for Busia County Referral Hospital.

The link group is planning their second visit in May this year and would be very grateful to anyone who wishes to support this project through kindly fundraising or donating to this cause.

Text “Awyr Las Sheet” to 70500 to give £5 now or for more information and for your free fundraising pack please contact the Fundraising Support Team on 01248 384395 / awyrlas@wales.nhs.uk or visit https://awyrlas.org.uk/betsikenya

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