Steve Brine

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

05 FEB 2013

Lifesaving Hampshire Hospital Volunteers Meet International Development Minister

Healthcare staff at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital demonstrated how they have helped reduce child mortality rates in South Sudan when they met International Development Minister, Lynne Featherstone today.

Volunteer doctors, nurses and midwives from the hospital have been training health workers at the Yei Hospital in South Sudan to provide vaccination programmes and neo-natal care.

Commenting on the scheme, Lynne Featherstone said: "The dedication of volunteer staff at Hampshire hospital is commendable. Over the last three years they've helped thousands of young mothers in South Sudan give birth safely, instigated a vaccination programme and made sure the hospital there has basics such as running water."

The link between the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and Yei Hospital in South Sudan has also enabled Hampshire health professionals to train maintenance staff in South Sudan so they can properly repair their most common medical equipment.

Steve Brine said: "UK Aid is about so much more than money and this is an excellent example of that. We have some highly trained and motivated health professionals in Winchester and I for one, am really proud they are able to travel to other parts of the world and literally save lives.

"We all love the NHS and that is why we are often critical of it and demand more year on year but it remains the best public health system in the world and if a little bit of that can be used to help others what an amazing thing we are doing."

Chief Executive of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mary Edwards says: "This partnership allows us to share our expertise with those in the developing world. As well as improving health centres in South Sudan, it also offers our staff the opportunity to gain valuable clinical and leadership skills that they can bring back to their work in the UK."

The Hampshire hospital volunteers have been able to share their skills with health centres in South Sudan through the DFID-funded Health Partnerships Scheme. In the four years that the scheme runs, it aims to send nearly 800 UK volunteers overseas in order to train 13,000 health workers and community members in some of the world's poorest countries.

Dr Simon Struthers who has co-leads the project has been out to Yei Hospital three times. "South Sudan has one of the highest under-5 mortality rates, we were shocked when we first arrived that the children's ward didn't even have running water - now it does. One of the most rewarding aspects of this project is seeing the progress we've made, slowly but surely."

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