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Departmental NewsMothers of AfricaPhoenix Project

Saving Lives in Namibia

30 January 2015

Ground-breaking training will save lives in sub-Saharan Africa

Life-saving medical procedures are being taught in a sub-Saharan African country for the first time thanks to Cardiff University.

Namibia has just two part-time medically qualified anaesthetists for a population of more than two million people.  But Cardiff University is working with the University of Namibia to change that.  Medical officers and students will start the first of three intensive anaesthesia courses on Monday, 2 February in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.  It is the forerunner to a four-year post-graduate anaesthesia course, the first ever in the country.

Namibian Healthcare Workers for Namibia
Namibian Healthcare Workers for Namibia

Professor Judith Hall, who is leading the project, says the training will save lives.

“This is very significant because previously there’s been no formal training of anaesthetists in Namibia,” she said.  “There’s no post-graduate education at all in Namibia and generally doctors have learned on the job, or been forced to go abroad.  It’s no good having the equipment if you haven’t got trained doctors.  People travel huge distances for health care and they die on the way.”

The training is part of Cardiff University’s Phoenix Project, one of five flagship community engagement projects that aims to transform lives in communities.  The three intensive anaesthesia training courses will run in three locations in Namibia: Windhoek, Rundu and Oshakati.  The first in Windhoek will provide training for up to a total of 18 students and medical staff over two weeks.  The other courses will run later this year.

Professor Hall added: “Pregnant mothers are the focus of the first course – there are two lives at stake.  We will provide training in simple and safe anaesthetic techniques for delivering babies, such as spinal anaesthesia for Caesarean sections.  We also want to look at resuscitation and trauma anaesthesia.”

Professor Hall, will train the medical officers and students alongside two other Wales-based senior anaesthetists Drs Chris Terblanche and Najia Hasan.   The intensive courses have been given financial support by the Tropical Health and Education Trust, a global health organisation which improves training for health workers in poorer countries.  The Phoenix Project will then take the training further by setting up Namibia’s first ever post-graduate qualification in anaesthesia in conjunction with the University of Namibia’s School of Medicine and the full support of Dean Peter Nyarango.

Phoenix’s schemes include everything from training medical staff and boosting health communications, to strengthening local languages and increasing maths skills among students.

The project has won the support of Namibia’s Deputy Health and Social Services Minister, The Hon. Petrina Haingura.

Cardiff University media release: 30th January 2015

Notes for editors:

Professor Judith Hall can be contacted for interviews on or 029 2074 3110. She leaves for Namibia at the weekend. Media contact is Kevin Leonard in the Cardiff University press office on 029 2087 0997 or

The Phoenix Project is one of Cardiff University’s five flagship community engagement projects. The others involve supporting the Cardiff city-region, connecting communities through hyperlocal websites, and building community engagement models to boost health, education and well-being. The Project is working in Namibia in tandem with the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme.

The Tropical Health and Education Trust is a global health organisation dedicated to working in partnership to improve education and training for health workers in low and middle-income countries, and supporting the development of more equitable, robust and comprehensive healthcare services. The grant is part of the Strengthening Surgical Capacity Programme, which is funded by Johnson & Johnson International and managed by the Trust.

Picture one shows Professor Judith Hall at the University of Namibia; picture two shows medical students at the University of Namibia; picture three shows Professor Hall at a Phoenix Project launch event.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s four flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to cancer stem cells, catalysis, neurosciences and mental health and sustainable places.