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    Two chronic disease Nurse Coordinators (NCOs), Sister EUGINE SHEZI and Sister GOLEBEMANG (“Gigi”) MDLELENI have recently returned from 6 weeks on a hands-on outreach programme in the Australian Outback.

    The overseas exchange was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Rosebank and Queensland University, for the two NCOs to gain experience in outreach programmes, where the scarce skills of academic renal specialists are leveraged into remote areas where kidney disease is prevalent.

      The two, Eugine and Gigi normally work at the Dumisani Mzamane African Institute of Kidney Disease at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto. They care for some 20 primary healthcare clinics in the Soweto area and beyond, reaching up to 40 000 patients. The National Kidney Foundation of SA intends to encourage the development of this successful project into other areas of South Africa. Dr Ivor Katz, head of the renal unit says: “The programme ensures the development of a supportive health care structure, an appropriate delivery system, decision support and an information system providing timely access to clinical information.” He adds: “This makes it possible to deliver high quality chronic illness care.”

    In Australia the NCOs worked in remote areas like Alice Springs, Darwin, the Tiwi Islands and the area near Ayer’s Rock. They worked in rural clinics mainly serving Aboriginal kidney patients in places like Docker River and Bega Garnbirringu.

    Sr Eugine remarked that: “The Australian outreach programme is touching the lives of an increasing number of Aboriginal kidney sufferers in remote areas, and is making a major difference to mortality rates.” Sr Gigi added: “The people we worked with in the Outback clinics have a similar high incidence of kidney failure to Africans back home, and we really intend to go on making a difference now that we’re back in South Africa.”

    The NKF of SA commends the Rosebank Rotary Club, Queensland University and the Dumisane Mzamane African Institute of Kidney Disease for this rich learning experience.