Clinical Mentorship / Training Program in Zimbabwe in partnership with UNICEF

Dear Colleagues,

The Twice The Doctor foundation is proud to have contributed  nearly  $250,000 to Unicef programs in Sierra Leone. Other agencies/ NGOs are now providing support to Sierra Leone health systems particularly after the high profile effects of the Ebola epidemic.

Our partnership with UNICEF will now be targeting the huge need in Zimbabwe as I intimated in my last newsletter. The program fits in beautifully with TTD’s philosophy of supporting training for medical staff as a super-effective way to deliver sustained impact and to fulfil our desire to “virtually volunteer”.

We may be sceptical about delivery of medical services in countries that may not have as rigorous checks and balances as we enjoy but this is precisely why we are so pleased that Unicef will be administering/ overseeing.

Clinical Mentorship / Training Program in Zimbabwe

This project builds the capacity of practitioners at district hospitals to provide comprehensive emergency obstetric care services, including Caesarean sections and blood transfusions.

Aim – support for senior specialist doctors from central hospitals to mentor/ train junior doctors and other practitioners at district hospitals, working together at both the central hospital and with the specialist doctor attending the district hospital.

Method – clinical mentorship is recognised as a strategy to save more lives and ‘decongests’ referral hospitals by enabling less complicated emergencies to be handled effectively at district hospitals.

Beneficiaries – emergency care teams in district hospitals, who are able to provide better ante and neonatal care and life-saving interventions for mothers and newborn babies. Emergency care staff includes doctors, nurse anaesthetists, clinical officers, midwives and theatre nurses from hospitals in Kariba, Gweru, Shamva, Binga and Chegutu districts.

Statistics on Zimbabwe

Population – 13.5 million

Population below 15 years of age – 41%

Maternal mortality – 614 per 100,000 births         (c/w Australia – 6.8)

Under 5 mortality – 75 per 1,000 births                     (c/w Australia – 4)

Risk of death for pregnant women – 1 in 42

Number of people living in extreme poverty (< $1.50/day) – 1.6 million

A note from Tony Stuart, Chief Executive, UNICEF Australia

“Twice the Doctor Foundation is working with UNICEF to give Australian doctors like you the chance to double your impact as health workers. By donating a single day’s salary, you can make a huge difference for women and children in Zimbabwe.”

Regards to all

Rob Baume

(On behalf of the directors of TTD foundation)

Effective aid needs to be delivered by appropriately trained staff sensitive to cultural needs

3 April 2017

Dear colleagues,

Here is a brief note from Jo Martin, paediatrician, in response to my last newsletter. It was graciously accompanied by a generous contribution.

“Thanks for the opportunity again to support this worthwhile cause. So grateful to live and work in Australia, yet still support medical work overseas where it is needed most.”

Here is a letter from my current registrar, Kathleen Batty, which I would like to share with you.

Ghana 2013

Kathleen Batty

In 2013, I undertook a month long placement in a relatively large hospital in Takoradi, Ghana. I worked in the Obstetrics & Gynaecology department, assisting the local doctors as best I could. This experience enlightened me on how poorly we understand Third World health issues. While it was difficult for me to make a meaningful contribution based on language barriers, I was able to observe the treatment of women in childbirth. I was shocked to see women discouraged and shamed for expressing pain or emotional distress in the process of having or losing babies. Women who had stillbirths were told to put on a happy face to encourage a happy womb. They were placed on wards beside mothers of new healthy babies. No psychological support was provided. The surgical theatres were basic to say the least. A bucket and kettle lay on the floor in the corner of the room, and were used to sterilise the surgical equipment between cases. There was a daily struggle to allocate the few oxygen cylinders to the patients most in need, and yet brand new high –tech equipment sat un-used in the hallways. They were undoubtedly donated without considerations for training, education and needs. I found it distressing not to be able to “fix” what seemed unjust to me. I now realise that what I was observing was a deeper cultural disparity that I could not begin to understand as a foreigner. Our contribution to Third World health care should match actual rather than perceived needs.


From Kathleen’s letter I glean the following;


  1. The need is huge! (Ghana is one of the “better off “African nations with GDP per capita of $4,400. For Zimbabwe, it’s $800 per capita.)


  1. The aid needs to be intelligent, targeted, and focused on appropriate training rather than necessarily providing equipment.


  1. Effective aid needs to be delivered by appropriately trained staff sensitive to cultural needs.


I am excited to report that our new project with our partners UNICEF is in Zimbabwe and involves local experts training medical staff in obstetric hospitals. I will elaborate soon!


Regards to all,


Rob Baume

(On behalf of the Directors of TTD)