Report of Stoma Care Training (LFSC) in Zimbabwe

Officially known as Republic of Zimbabwe, republic (2005 est. pop. 12,747,000), 150,803 sq mi (390,580 sq km), South central Africa. It is bordered on the north by Zambia, on the northeast and east by Mozambique, on the south by South Africa, and on the southwest and west by Botswana. Harare, formerly known as Salisbury, is capital of Zimbabwe, is largest city and its administrative, commercial and communication center.

Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) Map
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)

Zimbabwe’s economy mainly depends on agriculture. The country has good road and rail networks and domestic and international air service. The main exports are cotton, tobacco, gold, ferroalloys, textiles, and clothing. Imports include machinery, transportation equipment, manufactured goods, chemicals, and fuels. South Africa is by far the largest trading partner, followed by China, Japan, and Zambia.

A country of roughly 16 million people, Zimbabwe has 16 official languages with English, Shona, and Ndebele the most commonly used. Climate is tropical or Subequatorial.

Zimbabwe is known for its dramatic landscape and diverse wildlife, much of it within parks, reserves and safari areas. On the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls make a thundering 108m drop into narrow Batoka Gorge, where there’s white-water rafting and bungee-jumping. Downstream are Matusadona and Mana Pools national parks, home to hippos, rhinos and birdlife.


Formation of ILCO Zimbabwe

The project Ilco Zimbabwe was initiated by the Moyo family in Zimbabwe. It came out of the experience of difficulties and challenges when they battled to save their daughter Lizzie’s life.

After her stoma operation for I.B.D. in 2006, Lizzie faced that the medical health care and support services required were either too expensive or unavailable in the health care institutions in Zimbabwe.

At this point the family also considered other ostomates who were in Lizzie’s situation. They decided to mobilize other ostomates, their families and resources around the country, in attempt to advocate for their special health care needs and interests.

Marie Stéen, vice president at international department of ILCO Sweden, was contacted by Heini Lindsal on behalf of the Moyo family. An intensive period of mail correspondence and exchange of experiences took place between Marie Stéen and Lizzie Moyo and her family. She learnt to know more about the work carried out by ILCO Sweden. As well as the work done by many similar organizations supporting ostomates around the world. During her stay in Sweden several study visits were done to related organizations and health care institutions.

The pre-project planning began already in Stockholm. Lizzie was encouraged to continue to reach other ostomates in Zimbabwe and neighboring countries. The aim was that Lizzie should establish a like-minded organization in Zimbabwe. ILCO ZIM TRUST was registered 2010, although the work at ground level began already 2007 in Zimbabwe. The project between ILCO Sweden and ILCO ZIM started 2011.

Management Of Ilco Zim Trust

The management of the organization consists of seven board members, one director, one finance officer, one program manager and two branch representatives. All work is carried out on a voluntary basis. ILCO ZIM is supported by its mentor organization SEVACA in various aspects.

The Main Activities Implemented During Three Years

The main activities implemented were categorized under following strategies:

  • Support to ostomates, the primary beneficiaries
  • Awareness and advocacy
  • Institutional capacity building

Why LFSC in Zimbabwe

I met Linda and Lizzie Moyo of Zimbabwe at the EOA (European Ostomy Association) conference held in Taastrup – Copenhagen, from 5 to 8 October 2017. Linda is a young female and has a stoma since few years. She, in her report about ostomy care in her country at the congress, highlighted the extreme need for help who had ostomies in her country.

She started ILCO Zimbabwe, an ostomy support group with the help of ILCO Sweden, which at present has about 800 ostomates as members. The stoma care in Zimbabwe is hardly developed, and ostomy bags and accessories are not available or are very expensive which most ostomates cannot afford to buy.

In 2016, ILCO Zimbabwe (ILEOSTOMY-COLOSTOMY ZIMBABWE TRUST) received a container from ILCO Sweden full of ostomy products. Because the rents in Zimbabwe are very expensive, they thought about using the container as an office warehouse and placed it in the area within the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. Soon, however, the space proved to be insufficient and once again ILCO Sweden generously responded to the call by sending a second container to support the first to ensure the storage of materials, in order to use the other as an office-clinic.

Ostomy Centre in the Containers
Ostomy Centre in the Containers

Given the situation, I set out to schedule an intervention from our “Lions for Stoma Care” (LFSC) organization involving the “Lions Club International Foundation” (LCIF) that kindly sanctioned grant in aid of US $ 10,000 to Lions in Zimbabwe. Thanks to this contribution, to the enthusiasm and collaboration of local Lions, to the very dedicated and hardwork of PDG Jona Machaya (Zimbabwe) and Linda and Lizzie Moyo, to the inputs of His Excellency Godfrey Magwenzi, Ambassador in Italy of Zimbabwe, of PIP Dr. Ashok Mehta (India), of PID Dr. Manoj Shah (Kenya) , and help in coordination between us and ILCO Zimbabwe by Marie Steen of ILCO Sweden, it was possible to organize LFSC from 3rd to 7th December 2018, the first training course dedicated to doctors, nurses and ostomates at the “Harare Central Hospital”. The team of teachers included Prof. Carlo Pezcoller (Italy), by E.T. Tai Seow Beng (Malaysia) and Marie Steen (representing ILCO – Sweden).

Teaching Team
Teaching Team (From L – R)
1. Carlo Pezcoller
2. Lion PDG Dr. Alva
3. Linda Moyo
4. Marie Steen
5. Tai Seow Beng
Preparation for LFSC
Preparation for LFSC (From L to R)
1. Lion PDG Jona Mochaya
2. Linda Moyo

LFSC course: The course was attended by 30 professionals (doctors and nurses) enthusiastic to learn. Topics covered were how to correctly construct a stoma, how to manage it practically in day today life, how to deal with the many psychological and social problems (Diet, relationship and sexuality, clothing, Financial concerns, get back to work, travel and hobbies etc ) in order to rehabilitate the ostomates and make them self-sufficient and active both in the family and society than in their world of work.

Trainees, Healthcare Professionals and Teaching Team
Trainees, Healthcare Professionals and Teaching Team
Trainees at LFSC Training
Trainees at LFSC Training
Practical Demo Session of Ostomy Products
Practical Demo Session of Ostomy Products
Practical Demo Session of Ostomy Products
Practical Demo Session of Ostomy Products
Ostomy Centre in the Hospital Garden
Ostomy Centre in the Hospital Garden

The team of teachers, in addition to lectures and practical demonstrations with bags for ostomy and its accessories, also examined some ostomates giving them valuable tips to improve their quality of life. Unfortunately, in addition to adults, we found that there is also a fair number of children with ostomy, mostly due to congenital malformations. Unfortunately, some of these little ones have a very unhappy existence because they have not been given help by their parents to exists normal life with use of ostomy bags and accessories and therefore, they have been abandoned to their sad destiny, isolated from the world, from family affections, from playmates and without schooling.

With a deafening silence, a huge chapter opens-up of the children with the ostomy, a silent suffering that in the world has little attention from both the health authorities and the doctors themselves and the media.

The proper organizational aspect of the course was masterfully managed by Linda and Lizzie Moyo and PDG Jona Machaya along with the local Lions, I want to mention here: PDG Dr. Alva, PDG Clever Mugadza, LC President “Harare the Phoenix” Tinashe Chihwayi and Lions Priscilla, Ruth, Thabani. Each of them took turns taking part in our lessons, emphasizing the attention and concrete solidarity of the Lions of Zimbabwe for this serious handicap.

At the end of the course we delivered 30 certificates of participation to as many nurses who are now able to assist and manage a stoma and the nursing direction of the paediatric department of the “Harare Central Hospital” has designated within its premises, a room where the Stoma Nurses can assist decently the ostomates of the capital.

But the interest of the Lions does not end with this initiative! They will have to continue to follow the development of the “stoma care” in their country so that the seed planted this time, can sprout and bear abundant fruit!

Social and tour after the course – Local Lions had looked after us very kindly and had arranged social dinners and meetings with local Lions and health care professionals. I and ET Tai Seow Beng went to visit Victoria Falls and Wild life Safari Park which was very nice, enjoyable and thrilling experience in our life.

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River
Victoria Falls on Zambezi River
Prof. Carlo Pezcollar and ET Tai Seow Beng at the Safari
Prof. Carlo Pezcollar and ET Tai Seow Beng at the Safari

Lion Prof. Carlo Pezcoller,
Modena Italy