By Rob Swanda, PhD, Senior Engineer, TLDP
“Generational impact, transformational and life-changing” – these are some of the words used to describe BD’s Volunteer Service Trip program.
BD’s Volunteer Service Trip, which is currently in its 18th year of programming, furthers the company’s commitment to addressing and advancing a healthier, more equitable world. An esteemed group of BD volunteers including nurses, construction specialists, communications specialists and logistics coordinators will travel to Eswatini in partnership with Heart to Heart International (HHI) to help train local clinicians support the treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and rebuild a local health clinic.
Partnership with purpose
Eswatini has an adult HIV rate of almost 30 percent , which has remained the primary focus of the country’s health system for several decades. As a result, NCDs such as hypertension, diabetes and hepatitis have not been addressed in a significant way despite being a growing public health concern. Currently, NCDs are most often diagnosed when the patient is admitted for severe health issues, such as stroke, kidney failure or amputation. Additionally, many of the rural clinics where patients receive care in the region are in need of renovations in order to deliver higher quality quality care to patients.
Helping to address these challenges is where the 30-year long partnership of BD and HHI comes into play. In 2022, BD volunteers participated in a virtual VST and delivered a series of NCD training education programs to nurses in Eswatini. To continue BD’s commitment to improving health care access and quality in the region, BD and HHI are now organizing another VST serving Eswatini. The 2023 Eswatini VST will be a fully immersive in-person volunteer experience – taking place in August 2023.
To prepare for this experience, the volunteers came together for the first time in June at BD’s global headquarters in Franklin Lakes for an action-oriented orientation. Clinical, construction and communications teams planned their curriculum and acitvites for on-site, learned more about the cultural norms of Eswatini and began to immerse in the health care needs that they’ll be tasked with meeting and improving.
This video recaps the orientation and highlights the excitement for the upcoming trip!
Making an impact locally
During their time in Eswatini, many of the clinical-based skill volunteers will work directly with representatives from HHI to provide in-person training to help in-country health care providers improve the quality of NCD care in the region, while other participating volunteers will provide hands-on support to help build a new, larger clinic in Eswatini, with adequate room for patient treatment.
Stay tuned for more VST stories!
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