• The Friendship Bench: changing lives in Mbare and beyond
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The Friendship Bench: changing lives in Mbare and beyond

Since 2010, ZHTS has been supporting the “Friendship Bench” in Mbare township, Harare. In Zimbabwe there are no community mental health services provided by the government and the country only has a handful of trained psychiatrists in government practice. However, more than 25% of people using primary health care in Zimbabwe suffer from common mental disorders. Mental illness is among the top five leading causes of disability worldwide, but the problem can rarely be tackled in isolation. For example, depression is more common in people living with HIV, and is associated with accelerated disease progression and poor outcomes. Mbare Township […]

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Training mental health workers

Training mental health workers

Since 2014 ZHTS has been supporting the mental health training of nurses working in the major psychiatric hospitals in Zimbabwe. Mental health in Zimbabwe continues to be marginalised, poorly resourced and largely institutionally based. ZHTS is addressing this comprehensive mental health challenge in Zimbabwe with a training package that brings together recent research in mental health. It includes: How to manage risk appropriately while promoting recovery. Demonstrate the ability to help mental health patients to move from survival to recovery in a simulated environment. Demonstrate the ability to promote healing relationships between nurses and patients in a simulated environment. Challenge […]

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Supporting family medicine

Supporting family medicine

Family doctors are critical to Zimbabwe’s health system but, until now, there has been no specific training programme for doctors who want to develop a career in family medicine. ZHTS is helping to change that. In Zimbabwe most doctors work as generalists either in the public sector or private practice. Those working for government, municipalities and mission hospitals support nurses who provide primary health care while dealing with more complex cases themselves. Such doctors are frequently largely unsupported, but have to deal with a wide range of challenging medical and surgical problems. In a typical day these doctors may carry […]

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Skills database

Skills database

ZHTS has been building up a database of health professionals in the UK who can support their fellow workers in Zimbabwe. A survey of ZHTS members has identified a number who would be willing to share their skills with colleagues in Zimbabwe.  These include doctors from a wide range of specialities but also health professionals from other disciplines with important skills in, for example, infection control, clinical governance, medical sonograpy, health commissioning and research methods.  Many have expressed a willingness to fund themselves on a visit to Zimbabwe. These are just some of the fields in which UK health professionals have offered […]

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  • Friendship Bench expansion plans
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Friendship Bench expansion plans

The Friendship Bench project is now being scaled up to support other communities in Zimbabwe. 280 community health workers are being trained to care for people in their communities with mental health issues. These women are experienced at delivering problem-solving therapy using a locally adapted Shona Questionnaire Tool. At ZHTS, we are proud to see this project grow from a small pilot project in Mbare, Harare to become a globally recognised model of care for managing depression. Other African countries have taken interest in this model of care and are considering scaling it up in their countries. Huge credit must […]

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  • ZHTS visit to Chitungwiza hospital
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  • ZHTS_Blogpost3_TeachingChitunwizaHospital

ZHTS visit to Chitungwiza hospital

ZHTS trustees Kate Adams and Dorcas Gwata took the opportunity to catch up with Alice Mvuu and Chido Katsambe at Chitungweza hospital, just outside Harare. Chitungweza is a very well-run hospital, valued by both staff and the local community. Alice and Chido had been in the UK for three months in 2013 having been awarded Commonwealth nurse fellowship grants. Alice is a midwife and superintendent at the hospital. Chido continues to lead the paediatric nursing team. Dorcas and Kate delivered some mental health training to nurses, which was well received.

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Mental health training at Ingutsheni

Mental health training at Ingutsheni

Ingutsheni is the largest psychiatric hospital in Zimbabwe. Located in Bulawayo, it has 700 beds and looks after people with all the major mental illnesses. ZHTS formed a partnership with Ingutsheni to support training in 2014 and, in March 2016, Dorcas Gwata and Kate Adams visited the hospital to deliver a training update on assessing suicide risk and safeguarding to 20 mental health nurses.  The training was evaluated and received excellent feedback. Dorcas Gwata training nursing staff from Ingutsheni hospital  

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Latest Friendship Bench research

Latest Friendship Bench research

ZHTS trustee Dorcas Gwata has been carrying out research on the Friendship Bench project in Harare. The qualitative research involved semi structured interviews with Mbare-based community health workers to get their views on the scaling up of the Friendship Bench project across Zimbabwe.  Their expertise and knowledge in delivering mental health care in Mbare has been key in extending the programme across the country. Dorcas’s research was sponsored by the Florence Nightingale Trust in the UK.  She will be drawing lessons learnt from this research into her work with young people and families affected by gang culture in inner London. […]

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