A HOSPITAL twinning project between the Borders and Zambia has been hailed a success in a major new report.

The report from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on the value of international volunteering, was launched at a special event in the city.

And it outlines the work between Borders General Hospital and a hospital in Zambia, sparked by two Borders doctors more than 20 years ago.

The report, Global Citizenship in the Scottish Health Service, contains several mentions of the twinning relationship between the BGH and St Francis’ Hospital, which is situated at Katete in the east of the country - some seven hours’ drive from the country’s capital, Lusaka.

It was in 2009 that the two hospitals were formally twinned.

It came eight years after Dr Sandy Logie, a retired doctor from the Borders, died after contracting AIDS as a result of a needlestick injury sustained in the course of his volunteer medical services at the Zambian mission hospital.

Hi wife, Dorothy, a retired GP, has since been pivotal in this twinning relationship and last month, official charitable status was granted to the partnership between the two hospitals, now rechristened as The Logie Legacy.

The Global Citizenship in the Scottish Health Service report outlines how Scotland’s health service can deliver a national commitment to good global citizenship.

John Raine, Chairman of NHS Borders, as well as Dr Alastair Allan, Minister for International Development, Ms Maureen Watt, Minister for Mental Health and Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood were all at the launch.

Mr Raine told the Border Telegraph: “The Logie Legacy is a good example of NHS Borders’ commitment to volunteering opportunities for our staff, which as well as benefitting patients and medical staff in Zambia in the case of The Logie Legacy, have also allowed members of our staff to expand their experience and skills which in turn benefits the health and well-being of the people of the Scottish Borders.”

St Francis’ Hospital was founded in 1948 and is administered by a Joint Anglican Catholic Management Board, and is funded as a Zambian Ministry of Health second-level referral hospital.

The majority of patients are poor peasant farmers living in traditional villages.

The hospital has 360 beds for an immediate population of 180,000 and it is also a referral hospital for 1.5 million people living in the Eastern Province - an area the size of Scotland.

Patients are referred for surgery, serious medical, paediatric conditions and obstetrics by 14 rural health centres in Katete District and seven other hospitals and rural health centres in the Province.

In 2004 anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) became available through funding from the Global HIV, TB, Malaria Fund and USAID.

The HIV infection rate is 15 per cent of adults.

Health improvement for the very sick people starting ARVs is dramatic, enabling many to return to work.

The Zambia-Borders twinning will be further highlighted in September when Chris Faldon, a nurse practitioner within the Public Health directorate at NHS Borders and is also secretary of The Logie Legacy, has been asked to speak on the link with St Francis at the Towards Global Citizenship Conference in Glasgow.

Mr Faldon told us: “Colleagues across many departments have been privileged to offer their time and skills to improve the health of patients in Zambia and encourage hard pressed staff at a severely under resourced hospital.

"It is a humbling experience, we learn so much and this positively impacts our care back in the Borders.”

In a video case study accompanying the release of last week's report Mr Faldon, who has made a number of visits to Zambia since 2012, explains why he jumped at the chance to become involved with the partnership after a trip to Kenya in 1981.

He said: "Of course, healthcare delivery in Zambia, as opposed to the UK, is so different.

"And one could be forgiven for thinking that professionally, ‘well there¹s nothing much I can learn, I can only contribute something - and how wrong is that as an attitude.

"There's so much I have learnt, really, from my involvement there.”

In the video Mr Faldon goes on to cite as an example of the mutual benefits of the twinning arrangement, a project in the Borders to raise money for bicycles to help TB clinic volunteers in Zambia reach remote communities.

But what also emerged was that TB treatment completion rates in Scotland were lower than what they were in Zambia, despite Scotland’s greater resourced TB service.

Mr Faldon continued: “And that got me thinking that we could do things better here in Scotland.

"And so, that experience really helped me to go back and discuss this with my TB nurse colleagues, with presenting this at a national conference for multidisciplinary groups; just to look at how treatment completion could be brought up to higher than the World Health Organization standards.

"And that has been one way, I think, that that has really helped me to make a difference back in Scotland.

"But the seeds were sown in Zambia.”