UKZN Health Care Specialists Encouraged to Join Global Outreach Movement

UKZN’s Dean of Clinical Medicine Professor Ncoza Dlova has appealed to health care specialists in the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine to join the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome (ECHO) Outreach movement – a globally recognised organisation that takes on challenges.

Dlova made the call during a UKZN seminar titled ECHO Outreach held at the Medical School.

In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), ECHO has more than 90 hubs in Africa, including one at UKZN.

Guest speaker Dr Sanjeev Arora the Founder and Director of ECHO (the Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome), said the movement tackled challenges throughout the world by providing access to knowledge and a powerful mentorship approach to help implement best practices in health, education, and other domains for rural and urban populations.

Founded in 2003, ECHO has over the years worked in 70 areas plagued by troublesome diseases as well as getting involved in other complex issues through its 520 training centres in 56 countries.

Based on a mentor/mentee model, ECHO uses technology to leverage scarce resources; shares best practices to reduce disparities; applies case-based learning to master complexities and evaluates and monitors outcomes.

Capacitating primary health care practitioners, strengthening outreach and creating self-sustaining health care services in rural communities are all part of the movement’s core mission. ECHO believes that capacitated health care professionals are best placed to diagnose, test, refer and treat patients timeously which minimises costs and delays.

‘ECHO is a movement that changes the world,’ said Arora. ‘There’s not enough money in the world to help everyone but there’s knowledge. I invite the specialists in the audience to join us in this movement to change the world. This network is a coalition of the willing where passion is key.’

Said Dlova: ‘There is still a lot that we health care specialists can do in terms of strengthening our outreach. This ECHO network is a suitable platform to share skills, transfer knowledge and learn from others. Our registrars can also greatly benefit from this network. We are excited that ECHO has provided the means and tools for all that – let’s put them to good use and see how we can maximise those free tools because it is our responsibility to support and capacitate our physicians and primary health practitioners – that’s how we will improve the quality of health care.’

ECHO Project Manager at UKZN Dr Serela Ramklass thanked the movement for organising UKZN’s participation in the global network. ‘We are grateful for our ECHO license that allows us to access a free Zoom platform which can accommodate 1 000 participants,’ said Ramklass. ‘This license also provides us with an opportunity to access ECHO tools, the library, resources, technical support, and training of our hub team,’ said Ramklass.

‘ECHO has provided UKZN specialists with a better opportunity to enhance healthcare delivery and improve the quality of people’s lives in KwaZulu-Natal through the partnership which includes the Department of Health.’

Words: Lihle Sosibo and Mandisa Shozi

Photograph: Vangie Lewis