Nurses from the UK have been helping to train Red Cross volunteers in Uganda, as part of work to reduce the risk of disasters and boost the wellbeing of local communities.
The initiative came out of a partnership between the University of South Wales and the Ugandan Red Cross Society, which has seen students on the university’s MSc Disaster Healthcare course fly out to the country to support aid efforts.
“Through this partnership we want to be able to help the Red Cross with their capacity building”
In all 15 students on the master’s course, including nurses, journeyed to Uganda to deliver training to volunteers at local branches of the Red Cross in Mbale, Sironko and Jinga.
Four nurses, including three from the UK and one from Canada, were part of the multi-disciplinary team looking at community wellbeing and disaster vulnerability.
The partnership between the two organisations began last year when course leader Jeff Evans went to work with the charity for three months as part of the Welsh government’s Academi Wales international learning and development scheme for leaders and managers in the public sector.
The university and charity have since signed up to a memorandum of understanding that will see them work together to strengthen the response to disasters, including natural disasters and disease, and identify ways to reduce the risk of such disasters happening in the first place.
The agreement will also see the partners look at the way the Ugandan Red Cross Society designs, monitors and evaluates their projects.
“It enables our students to get first-hand experience of working out in the field”
Mr Evans highlighted that one of the key benefits from the relationship was that it offered students the chance to get first-hand experience of working in the field.
“Last year, I began working with the Red Cross to look at disaster risk reduction, so for example their infrastructure for water and sanitation and how to make sustainable use of the environment,” he said.
“Since then, our relationship has strengthened further and students from our MSc Disaster Healthcare course have just returned from Uganda after spending some time delivering training to Red Cross volunteers,” he added.
In 2017 alone, the Ugandan Red Cross supported refugees from South Sudan and responded to several disasters including flooding, landslides and disease outbreaks such as cholera.
Students have been working with volunteers to look at designing projects for disaster risk reduction and community wellbeing.
Earlier this year, the university formalised a working agreement with an armed forces nursing college in South Korea to train healthcare professionals in disaster response.
Meanwhile, Mr Evans noted that Uganda had a “lot of challenges” in terms of disasters, from disease outbreaks to natural disasters.
“Through this partnership we want to be able to help the Red Cross with their capacity building, so that they can be equipped to plan for challenges that they may face in the future,” he said.
“This could be projects around improving water sanitation, using planting to reduce the risk of landslides, planning for reproductive health or the quality of housing,” said Mr Evans.
He added: “It also enables our students to get first-hand experience of working out in the field, in an international context, putting theory into practice.”
UK nurses among those helping to train Ugandans in disaster response
Source: University of South Wales