Filling the Human Resources for Health Gap: CCBRT and Parent Carer Training

|   BLOG

In our blogs this month, we’ve told you about how, with less than 0.5 doctors per 1,000 people, Tanzania faces a serious human resources for health (HRH) shortage. We’ve also told you what we’re doing about it, from training nurses like Ladness to opening our own training facility, the CCBRT Academy.

But is there another way to help fill the HRH gap in Tanzania?

Since the beginning of 2017, our Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Department has been conducting Parent-Carer Trainings (PCTs) for the parents of children living with lifelong developmental disabilities like cerebral palsy (CP) and spina bifida and hydrocephalus (SBH). CP and SBH are conditions caused by damage to the brain and spinal cord, often around birth, that affect motor skills including muscle control and speech.

For the best health outcomes, children with CP and SBH require therapy and assistive devices, in addition to assistance with day to day tasks. However, there is a nationwide lack of rehabilitation resources, coupled with a lack of knowledge among many parents of children with CP and SBH about how to manage their child’s condition. This means that the growth of many of these children is limited, preventing them from participating in daily activities like going to school or playing with friends.

That’s where PCT comes in. In a PCT, parents of children with disabilities learn about their child’s condition. Over the course of a week, parents gain the practical skills they need in order to appropriately feed, wash, hold and communicate with their child, as well as to help their child with basic rehabilitation exercises. If their child is fitted with an assistive device, parents also learn how to properly use and care for the device.

While PCTs don’t replace the critical need for more rehabilitation specialists and resources in Tanzania, teaching parents how to provide better, more informed care for their child helps maximise and sustain the impact of CCBRT’s work. By giving parents the tools to provide appropriate care for their growing child, PCTs reduce parents’ reliance on strained resources while supporting children with CP and SBH in reaching their full potential. Additionally, PCTs reduce the financial burden experienced by parents who often travel to bring their child to CCBRT’s facilities in Dar es Salaam and Moshi.

Returning to our initial question, then, we think we can answer “yes”: in a context where HRH are limited, PCTs support healthier, happier families and help fill the gap.

Parents attend a PCT held at CCBRT in early 2017.
“The WIT was so helpful," Joseph's (pictured above with a CCBRT community rehabilitation worker) mother says. "It gave me time to concentrate on how to best care for Joseph at home. He is so much stronger now!”