Kirsty Tolmie

As trustee what’s your role?

My official role is Chairperson, spanning governance and operational aspects of On Call Africa. Ensuring we remain accountable both to the charity regulator but also to our stakeholders and beneficiaries. Along with the other medically trained trustees I’m responsible for overseeing the provision of our medical services.

As founder of the charity, why did you set it up?

My husband and I worked in Tanzania and Malawi as junior doctors, working on mobile medical clinics. We saw how effective the model was to bring healthcare directly to those who needed it most. The people we worked with inspired us and were struck by the huge inequity in the provision of healthcare in rural areas compared to urban.

What do you do when you are not supporting On Call Africa?

I’m a palliative medicine doctor, living and working in Glasgow. When not working, you’ll find me running around with my 4 year old daughter.

Why is On Call Africa important to you?

I see the difference it makes to peoples lives. I’m proud of the change I have seen in the villages where we work.

What made you become a trustee?

In the beginning On Call Africa was a very small grass roots organisation. As a founding trustees we worked together on all aspects of the project – governance, fundraising and monitoring and evaluation. We were all in Zambia together running the project and delivering the service.

What does the future hold for On Call Africa?

I’d love to see us expand to work in other areas of Zambia. There are vast areas in the west and north of Zambia that are more cut off than the villages we currently work in. We’ve proven over the last 10 years are model works but the need in other areas remains huge.

How do you decide which communities to support?

We work with the District Health Offices and Rural Health Centres to identify the communities most in need, those with the greatest health challenges, and furthest journey from any existing services. We run scoping missions to ensure the roads are passable and we can reach the communities, and also that they’re happy build partnerships with us.

One of your key areas of focus is to provide improved and equitable access to healthcare in remote communities, how is this carried out?

We treat: using mobile medical clinics to bring doctors, medicines and vaccinations to patients.

We teach: by developing health promotion programmes and education on health behaviours.

We train: by delivering a community health worker programme to members of the communities in which we work.

When where you last in Zambia and what is your favourite thing to do when you visit?

2015. I love being out on clinic, meeting the locals and listening to the school choirs practising. After a dusty 3 days on clinic, heading down to the banks of the Zambezi River, having a few sun downers and watching the sun set.

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