Are you a healthcare professional who is keen to develop leadership experience while helping deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals? The Welsh Government’s International Learning Opportunities (ILO) programme provides a unique opportunity for healthcare professionals in Wales to spend eight weeks in Lesotho, Namibia, Somaliland, or Uganda, allowing them to share skills with African partners and develop new ones.
On June 22nd, 2022, the Wales Africa Health Links Network delivered an event in partnership with Hub Cymru Africa to raise awareness of the ILO programme, which is currently open for applications. The event introduced the programme, explained the application process, and heard from previous applicants about their experiences.
Brian Eadon, a retired NHS pharmacist, recounted his life-changing experience on the ILO, which saw him going to Lesotho for the first time in 2017 and returning in 2018 to deliver a project he suggested during his first visit. Among Brian’s motivations for applying to the programme included broadening his pharmacy experience in low-income countries, making new friends, and applying what he had learned to the NHS.
Brian was initially tasked with assessing the medical logistics system in Quthing District, Lesotho, and suggesting recommendations for how it could be improved. In touring the Primary Healthcare Centres and learning about the challenges healthcare professionals were facing first-hand, Brian recommended a dispensary management course for the nurses in the district. While not required of him, he enthusiastically traveled back to Lesotho in 2018 for three weeks to deliver the course.
We also heard from Jan Jeffrey, an NHS physiotherapist who participated in the ILO in 2016. Having worked with outpatients in the UK, Jan was taken out of her comfort zone on her ILO assignment in Lesotho, where she helped children with disabilities in inpatient settings. In the absence of a multidisciplinary team to help her, Jan also challenged herself by working multiple jobs she had never done before. By setting up a physiotherapy room within a day and introducing small changes to increase engagement, the children she was working with gradually improved. As a result of this experience, Jan decided to make a career change and work within a paediatric team in Wales. She is currently back in Lesotho on a volunteering trip.
Watch the full event here: