2) I do believe “all knowledge is relational”. I wrote to the secretary of state for health in the last government and suggested that we coud join up some thinking between the dept of health and the dept for international development. How often do we hear that the money given through aid has been squandered, wasted or siphoned off into some terrible and corrupt dictator’s pocket? And this then gives UKIP or the Tories scope to try and slash our aid budgets to the developing world. But, we also have a surplus of trainee doctors…..
My idea was this – instead of giving money into situations to help with health, we could give our doctors, nurses and midwives to work on an optional (rolling) basis as part of their training. We have loads of GP, surgical, medical, paediatric, anaethetistic, emergency, nursing and midwifery specialist trainees (to name but a few), who finish their training, or who get to a certain level and then cannot progress further due to a bottle neck in the system. We have some the best trained medical professionals in the world waiting for jobs. We also have, for example, the same population as South Africa, and ten times the number of doctors…….
What about piloting some schemes, where we allow relationships to develop between partner hospitals and communities? We can send some of our best trained people into the developing world, paid for by a joint arrangement between the DoH and DfID. Our trainees would get some of the best experience, with on the job training available and return with richer and more diverse skills. They would build friendships and receive as much as they would give, learning about communication skills in difficult circumstances, reaching through cultural barriers and expanding their knowledge base. The host hospitals/clinics would also benefit from the sharing of knowledge and skills and therefore an increased level of expertise with which to help their communities. There would also be fresh supplies and medicines, provided, for example, by the incredible work of the International Healthcare Partners or the Health Impact Fund. It is vital that such partnerships include community medicine as well as hospitals, because we need a sustainable model for the future. Plus we need to breakdown traditional views of who is ‘qualified’ to be a healthcare professional! Basic signs of illness could be taught to community members, so that the right treatment is given for the right condition. There has been some fascinating work, of late, in helping communities recognise when something is malaria and when it is not – the results have been staggering. It’s a scheme which involves partnership, honesty, sharing resources, using aid budgets in a relational and focussed way and could, I think, be really transformational! Aid that is relational and reciprocal – breaks down some of the power dynamics and utilises resource as gift. Sounds like good stewardship. The british government didn’t think so and were rude and dismissive in their reply!!