Finalist category: Africa Award
Africa Award, Winner, 2020
MedicineAfrica is a not-for-profit organisation that provides technology consultancy and acts as a partner for health system strengthening programmes. Its main project in Somaliland uses technology to connect medical professionals in the UK with partner universities and medical students in Somaliland. With its main academic partner King’s College London Somaliland Partnership, they have used online learning technology to deliver desperately needed training for over 11 years. As the technology infrastructure in Somaliland has improved, the platform has evolved from text and image based lectures to audio and video tutorials
In a country where there are limited specialists, how do you begin to build up the expertise to train further specialists? MedicineAfrica has helped answer the problem. For example, there was a time when there were no specialist psychiatrists in Somaliland. This meant patients suffering from schizophrenia or other mental illnesses were not understood. They were often subject to traumatic exorcisms from local healers or left chained to rocks or beds.
Through MedicineAfrica, doctors were able to access courses and mentoring from trained psychiatrists. Sessions were held online and in real time with follow up resources, assessments and learning materials delivered as part of a fully endorsed course. Graduates from this program like Dr. Jbril Handuleah played an enormous part in changing the country’s attitudes towards mental health. While there is still much work to be done, police and health workers now have a better understanding of how to deal with mental health and can refer patients to the modern psychiatric unit built at Hargeisa hospital in 2017.
MedicineAfrica continues to iterate on its platform. As part of the ‘SPHEIR Prepared for Practice’ grant led by Kings College London, the team are adapting and expanding the online training to suit the country’s current needs. MedicineAfrica also supports the Somalilandcorona.org voluntary initiative which looks to provide continuous professional training to practicing doctors and healthcare workers in Somaliland.