BMJ partners with UCT to help primary healthcare workers

11 September 2015 | Story by Newsroom
Clinical Nurse Practitioner Sister Lelani Schoeman seeing a patient using PACK in Oudtshoorn Clinic, Eden District in 2013. Photo by UCT TV.
Clinical Nurse Practitioner Sister Lelani Schoeman seeing a patient using PACK in Oudtshoorn Clinic, Eden District in 2013. Photo by UCT TV.

One of the world's leading healthcare knowledge providers, the BMJ, has partnered with University of Cape Town's Lung Institute's Knowledge Translation Unit to develop and distribute the Practical Approach to Care Kit (PACK) programme to healthcare workers in low to middle-income countries.

Primary healthcare is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (now the Sustainable Development Goals), but a lack of skilled health workers makes this difficult, especially in developing countries.

The Practical Approach to Care Kit (PACK) programme is a comprehensive clinical aid that enables healthcare practitioners to diagnose and manage common conditions. It covers 40 common symptoms and 20 conditions including cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, women's health, and end-of-life care.

BMJ is now promoting the global expansion of PACK, in partnership with the unit at UCT and other stakeholders, including governments, universities and NGOs. The intention is to train and support doctors, nurses and pharmacists to improve primary care services in under resourced regions.

PACK is updated annually to comply with local clinical policy, regulations and essential drug lists, and is translated where necessary. It incorporates regular evidence updates from BMJ and other credible sources including the World Health Organisation (WHO), to ensure that it is relevant and provides the latest best practice guidance.

Since 2007, PACK has been scaled up to reach 20 000 health workers in 2 000 government healthcare facilities in South Africa. The programme has been implemented in Botswana and in the Zomba district of Malawi. There is extensive interest from other middle to low income countries.

BMJ will also provide technical development, marketing, sales and licensing to help with implementation of the PACK programme globally.

BMJ Editor-in-Chief Dr Fiona Godlee said: "It is crucial for healthcare workers to be provided with the latest evidence based recommendations, and locally relevant information, to diagnose and treat patients effectively. To that end, we are delighted to partner with UCT to bring the programme for use in underserved communities to help improve the delivery of primary care."

Head of the Knowledge Translation Unit Associate Professor Lara Fairall said: "We are very excited about this development. BMJ has an excellent track record in providing access to professional content in the institutional sector worldwide, and the partnership enables us to leverage their resources to address the gap in clinical decision support and implementation in low and middle income countries. We cannot think of a better partner to be working with to help our programme reach a broader, global audience."

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