Sudan has launched a COVID-19 intervention programme that would enable those suffering the disease to be treated in their homes using videoconferencing technology.
This initiative relies on a Sudanese medical students volunteer partnership that builds on the campaign by Sudanese American doctors to reduce COVID-19’s toll on communities, hospitals and clinics.
The existing Community Medical Response Team (CMRT) programme, set up during the height of COVID-19 in 2020, will use the ECHO telementoring model to connect medical students, graduates, and trainees with highly experienced providers and other experts in virtual learning communities that share best practices and support for treating patients with COVID-19 in their homes. This will help reduce the virus’s toll on local communities while alleviating the pressure on hospitals and care centers struggling to deal with Sudan’s worsening crisis, which the Ministry of Health has described as “dire.”
“We are privileged and excited to help reduce sickness and suffering in Sudan, where COVID-19 is challenging an already weakened health system, overwhelming the capacity of hospitals and doctors to care for patients,” Sanjeev Arora, Founder and Director of Project ECHO said.
The programme, Project ECHO, founded in 2003, uses videoconferencing technology in a collaborative model of education and care management that empowers learners to implement evidence-based safety and quality practices to improve care and outcomes.
The project has worked with partners worldwide to support a global COVID-19 response since the start of the pandemic comprising Project ECHO, the global telementoring initiative based at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque; the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC); the Sudanese American Medical Association (SAMA) and Sudan NextGen (SNG), which are both part of the Coalition of Sudanese Organizations against COVID-19 (the coalition); and the Sudanese Federal Ministry of Health (MoH).
“When COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic, my thoughts immediately went to Sudan. We had to do something. Today, we are thrilled to be part of a vibrant movement that leverages the passion and energy of medical students and young doctors to help their communities through this terrible time,” Nada Fadul, an infectious disease physician at University of Nebraska said.
Dr. Fadul and other Sudanese physicians living in Ireland, Canada, Australia, and the United States began working with the coalition in 2020. The coalition’s efforts during the first wave of the pandemic covered everything from training healthcare providers on proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to pregnancy care during the pandemic, as well as efforts to provide PPE and other medical supplies.
Over the past four months, they have worked with other Sudanese physicians, including Mohamed Khogali in Saudi Arabia, and trained more than 120 medical and healthcare students in over 50 Sudanese neighborhoods to manage patients with COVID-19 in their homes. The CMRT trainings focus on the principles of home management for mild to moderate cases; home isolation and quarantine methods; and identifying life-threatening symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical schools in Sudan have been closed, so many students were just sitting at home. They wanted to do something, but they didn’t know what to do or how do to it safely. In addition to the impact they’re having on patients, students benefit from pursuing their learning in a hands-on way. When they return to their classrooms, they will be better equipped to take on new challenges,” Fadul said.