Cornerstone Initiative launched in Zambia

“This was a wonderful opportunity to learn and engage with my fellow physiotherapists from across Zambia. We are now better placed to pass on the knowledge about hemophilia to others to help increase awareness and ensure that the patients are better cared for.” —Esther Shakachite, Physiotherapist, Mansa General Hospital, Luapula province.

In September 2016, the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) and the Hemophilia Foundation of Zambia (HFZ) organized two training workshops for lab technicians and physiotherapists, representing all 10 provinces from across Zambia.

Both workshops were held as part of the Cornerstone Initiative supported and funded by the WFH. The Cornerstone Initiative program in Zambia will help facilitate the transfer of knowledge and expertise, and it will help train patients and healthcare professionals in the country. The objective is to reach the most vulnerable members of the country’s bleeding disorders community.

The training workshops were hosted at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. The aim of the workshops was to introduce laboratory technicians and physiotherapists to the basic concepts and principles of hemophilia care. The workshops also included specialized training on the challenges lab technicians face when performing a diagnosis or measuring clotting factor and inhibitors. The principles of physiotherapy management of hemophilia and associated risks and complications for physiotherapists were also covered.

The training was about more than just disseminating theoretical information— both workshops included practical, hands-on sessions aimed at immersing participants in the experience of working on both lab tests and patient care. Participants also received copies of WFH training and education materials to help them better incorporate WFH standards of diagnosis, care and treatment into their daily work.

The workshops were a great opportunity for the HFZ to continue to engage with high level officials to help solidify their advocacy efforts. So far, the HFZ and the WFH have been able get the full support of the First Lady of Zambia, Esther Lungu, and Zambia’s Minister of Health, Chitalu Chilufya, MD. This political support is the result of the HFZ being very active since it was established in 2012; it joined the WFH in 2014 and became involved with the WFH Cornerstone Initiative Program in 2015. Charity Pikiti, Chairperson of the HFZ, said, “We are deeply grateful to the WFH for their professional work and selfless efforts. We are confident that after conducting the training, the knowledge gained by lab technicians outside of Lusaka will ensure that patients we identify through our outreach work can be verified through accurate diagnosis. We now also have a network of trained physiotherapists who can work with identified patients to help ensure a better quality of life for them.”