International capacity building via the ‘new norm’ of virtual teaching and volunteering
The COVID-19 pandemic and draconian cuts to UK aid funding have had a major impact on international health partnerships (Buse and Hawkins, 2021; UK Research and Innovation, 2021). However, throughout the pandemic, despite these challenges, the health partnership between Lusaka College of Nursing (LUCON) and Birmingham City University (BCU) has continued to operate in Zambia, providing both in-country and virtual support from nurses working in the NHS and higher education in the UK.
This article presents the work undertaken during this challenging time through the Health Education England volunteer placements programme administered by the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) initiative, through which UK-based clinicians can volunteer in Africa.
Since the start of the partnership in 2015, it has operated using a ‘hub and spoke’ model. To support and enhance the partnership, BCU has acted as the hub. Its role has included seeking and gaining project funding for activities, providing project leadership, co-ordination and governance, taking on financial responsibility for projects and providing educators to support strategic activities in Zambia, with LUCON acting in parallel with BCU as the in-country lead/hub.
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