Books for better health in Zimbabwe
Recently our Head of Communications, Jessica Faulkner, travelled to Zimbabwe to visit some of the libraries we support there, including the library in Parirenyatwa School of Nursing and Midwifery in Harare. Here’s her report on the difference those books make.
Every year we send thousands of medical and health care books to libraries in Africa and I was lucky enough to travel to Zimbabwe recently and see one of the libraries where these books are now on the shelves. Parirenyatwa School of Nursing is based in the capital Harare and is part of the largest medical centre in Zimbabwe. The School provides academic and on-the-job training to both trainee and qualified nurses and midwives.
The library in the School of Nursing is a vital resource for trainee and qualified nurses alike. Nursing students use the library on a daily basis to support their studies and those already qualified use the library to keep their knowledge current and up to date. Nurses who are not studying or employed at the hospital can also make use of the library for reference, which benefits the wider community as well as the hospital itself.
Our strong relationships with medical publishers mean we have been able to send a great stock of brand new, up-to-date medical books to the library. The library holds around 3,000 books in total and around 40% of those have been donated by Book Aid International. It was so encouraging to see books that I have previously seen looking pristine in our warehouse here in London, now well-thumbed and with plenty of ‘borrowing’ stamps in the front cover – it goes to show these books are exactly what the nurses need.
I met Mrs Chimboka while I was there, who is a tutor at the School of Nursing. She told me that the school started to receive books from Book Aid International in the early 1990s.
“Before then there were very few books. I only remember a few books on anatomy and physiology for students of Basic Nursing. Now there is much improvement in our students because of the library – you can see this in our final results.”
Mrs Chimoka also told me how useful the books are to qualified nurses:
“Those who reach Practical Nursing [once qualified] – most of them are upgrading themselves and their knowledge by using the books in the library.”
I met a student nurse called Loveness, who was in her third years of Basic Nursing. She told me she used the library every day during study time. As well as providing a quiet place to study, the library stocks many of the books she needs to complete her studies. She told me:
“Once I’m qualified I will still use the library to increase my knowledge. Nursing is dynamic, there are always changes so you need to keep improving.”
Libraries like this one in Parirenyatwa School of Nursing are making a huge difference – not only to the lives of the nurses studying there but for their patients as well. The library would be short of many key titles without the books we send and nurses would be less able to keep their knowledge updated. Decent healthcare is so important to the development of a nation and this requires a constant stream of doctors, nurses and medical staff completing their studies and having current information available to them. It was so encouraging to see the books we send so well-used and valued – it’s clear they are making a huge difference in this hospital.