This October, I-TECH marked the conclusion of two successful years working in close partnership with health care training institutions and health leaders in Huambo Province, Angola.
During a three-day symposium at the School of Medicine at the University José Eduardo dos Santos (UJES) I-TECH completed its last project, officially handing off training materials for an Introduction to HIV course to school leaders and students. Faculty will use the materials, which are in Portuguese, to prepare new cohorts of Angolan health care workers to meet the challenges of the epidemic.
“During our time in Angola, I-TECH has been pleased to work with our local partners to improve the training and mentoring available to new and practicing health care workers,” says I-TECH’s Fernanda Freistadt. “Angola, like many resource-limited countries, is facing a profound shortage of qualified health care workers, and our effort has built a stronger base for mentoring and training new cohorts.”
I-TECH first began working in Angola in 2010 at the invitation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since the end of a civil war in 2002, the country has been working to rebuild its health care infrastructure and increase the capacity of its health workforce. The primary goal of I-TECH’s work in Angola has been to strengthen the quality of education provided to medical, nursing, and allied health students. This has included assessments to identify the strengths of training institutions and practicum sites and highlight areas for improvement, support for clinical mentoring and in-service training; and donations of necessary training equipment and materials. In addition, I-TECH has provided technical assistance to support a post-graduate pediatric program, and strengthened the infrastructure of the Huambo Provincial Hospital so that the facility can participate in distance learning trainings.
Most recently, I-TECH worked with local partners to implement a clinical mentoring program for nurses in Angola, who are increasingly given the responsibility of prescribing antiretroviral therapy to patients living with HIV.
In all of these efforts, said Freistadt, I-TECH is thankful for the exceptional commitment of its educational and institutional partners. This includes the Angola office of the CDC; the Huambo Provincial Health Department (DPS); the School of Medicine at Universidade José Eduardo do Santos; Huambo Polytechnic Institute (ISPH); Huambo General Hospital; and the National Institute for the Fight Against AIDS (the Instituto Nacional De Luta Contra SIDA).
Freistadt also warmly thanked I-TECH’s field manager, Odon Sanchez. “We are so lucky to have had his dedication and expertise,” she said.
Prior to the handoff event at the University, leaders from I-TECH; Angola’s CDC office; and several of the Angolan partner organizations also held a final phone call to officially close out the program. The group talked about projects and lessons learned over the past two years, discussed recommendations, and exchanged warm goodbyes.
“As we bring this program to a close,” says Freistadt, “we are pleased to have built very strong relationships in Angola. The leadership of the DPS, HGH, and educational institutions of the [Huambo] province have shown an exceptional commitment to improving health services and providing high-quality training to health care professionals in the region.”