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Clinic in a box is a lifesaver

Written by Poppy Brady | | 28/09/2014 01:00 PM
TEAMWORK: The SBN team (from left): Makkedah Idawah, Chipo Sibanda, Empress Zauditu Ishuah, and Sister Gem (kneeling)

The community champion taking vital supplies to countries with little or no medical help.

THE UNIQUE idea of ‘a clinic in a box’ is helping to save lives in some of the most remote and neglected parts of the world – thanks to a team of women who run a Birmingham-based charity.

Community champion Jenny Simpson, better known as Empress Zauditu is at the helm of the multi-faceted charity Sick Be Nourished (SBN), which has already helped thousands of people across Africa and in Jamaica.

As a surgical nurse practitioner with more than 20 years experience she knows only too well the importance of taking vital supplies to countries with little or no medical help.


So the Empress and her team are filling up ‘clinics in a box,’ each with £350 worth of equipment ranging from disposable gloves and wipes, to blood pressure monitors, stethoscopes, syringes, peak flow monitors and patella hammers.

“The aim is for a health professional in a rural community to be able to start up a local clinic using the equipment in these boxes,” explained the Empress as she and her team filled boxes at their offices in Birmingham city centre.
Hospitals across the West Midlands and the UK including Hammersmith, Charing Cross and St Mary’s Hospitals in London, have donated equipment, but now the hunt is on to find sponsors willing to help the team ship the boxes.

Makkedah Idawah, another member of the self-funding charity, said: “The equipment is piling up and hospitals have been very generous, but we now need financial help to ship out all this equipment as it’s so desperately needed in parts of Ethiopia, Gambia, the Sudan and Nigeria as well as parts of the Caribbean.”

Sick Be Nourished, which takes its name from words in the Ethiopian creed, was founded by the Empress following the death in childbirth of a beloved friend in Shashamane, Ethiopia, more than ten years ago.


The trauma of seeing her friend Yainka die after going into respiratory arrest following the birth of her fourth child is something that has haunted Zautidu ever since.

“I will never forget leaving the hospital with Yainka’s baby, then having to go home and tell her other three children that their mother was dead,” recalled Zautidu, who has five children of her own.

“With proper equipment there was no reason for her to die. The whole thing affected me greatly and made me want to do something about it.”

EVERYTHING I OWN: Empress Zauditu with Ken Boothe

The charity also puts a great emphasis on training the next generation about the importance of preventative health in issues such as sexual health and parenting.

Zauditu hopes to create an SBN nursing crew along similar lines to the Black Cross nurses’ system that was created by Marcus Garvey as part of his Universal Negro Improvement Association that he set up in the 1920s.

“I feel it’s very important to work with the community to give them the career motivation to consider becoming a health professional,” added Zautidu, who was given a ‘local hero’ award at the Association of Jamaican Nationals gala awards night in Birmingham in 2012.

SBN is also raising its profile through branded merchandise and also music after just releasing a charity album with support from singer Ken Boothe, one of Jamaica’s finest vocalists who had a number one hit in 1974 with the song Everything I Own.


Boothe donated a track called 400 Years for the charity album and was made a lifetime honorary member of SBN when he met Empress Zauditu. Singer Jimmy Cliff and celebrity chef Levi Roots are also supporting SBN.

Meanwhile the charity’s work continues with health awareness workshops on issues such as the Ebola virus.

Zauditu whose team also includes Chipo Sibanda, Sister Gem, Sister Taitu and Taleebah, added: “Our work is both international and very local all at the same time, but if we raise awareness, while also raising people’s self esteem, then we are helping to improve the quality of people’s lives.”

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