Extracts from Journals - May 2008


TALC’s programme to supply books to nurse and other health worker training schools

David Morley MD. FRCP. Founder and President of TALC


Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals of reducing maternal and child deaths, which occur mainly among the poor, is slow in many African countries. Because most doctors work in urban hospitals or private practice, it is nurses, midwives, medical assistants and clinical officers who are in the forefront of the fight to reduce these death rates.

There are often limited resources for training these professionals; particularly books. Books that are available may be 10 or more years out of date - and few training schools have sufficient books for all the students.

However, books are a vital source of information and, if enough books are available, students are able to learn how to use them. For example, they learn to use an index, to check drug doses and to find solutions to clinical problems. If the skill of how to use books is not learnt during training it may never be learnt. This means that the nurse or other health worker is less likely to keep pace with the rapid changes that are taking place in health care world-wide.

For many years the NGO Teaching-aids At Low Cost (TALC) has been aware of this problem and has been supplying low cost books (and other learning materials) to health workers in ‘developing’ countries. TALC particularly recommends two recently published low cost books for student nurses and other health workers. These are:

 • Nursing and Midwifery: a practical approach by S. Hubband, P. Hamilton-Brown and G Barber, published by Macmillan in 2006. This 400-page well-illustrated book is specifically written for nurses in Africa.

 • Hospital Care for Children edited by Harry Campbell, published by WHO in 2005, This is a very comprehensive well-illustrated pocket sized book that deals with both treatment and prevention of common childhood illnesses.

Where donors can be found, TALC can supply a collection of materials to training schools. This includes one copy of the above books to every two students of those entering the school at one time. And Tutors can choose 5 additional reference books from the TALC catalogue. TALC has many ‘free’ materials including books, newsletters, and CD-ROMs that can also be included. Among these is a coloured tape for assessing children’s nutrition using the Mid Upper Arm Circumference.

If you want more information on books for training schools or want to access TALC’s catalogue and order books and other materials: Go to www.talcuk.org or email [email protected] or write to TALC, P.O. Box 49, St Albans, Herts AL1 5TX, UK or fax +44 1727 846852.


Practical Pharmacy for Developing Countries

Practical Pharmacy for Developing Countries is a free well-illustrated easy-to-read newsletter whose goal is to provide accurate information for front-line health workers. The edition of March 2008 was on the treatment of tuberculosis. Practical Pharmacy is distributed as an email attachment and you can subscribe by emailing [email protected].


How things were... in the 1860’s

Smallpox was not only limited to the northern provinces of the Sudan, however, for the toll of the disease was also felt in the southern tropical reaches of the country where the slave trade was rife. The British explorer, Sir Samuel Baker, (1866), reports that smallpox was a scourge among the tribes of Central Africa and that it occasionally swept through the country and decimated the population. He further specifies that the disease was ravaging the southern districts of the Sudan in 1863 and that natives were ‘dying like flies’. The disease also devastated the Turkish camp, although Baker’s men were spared. Commenting on this, Baker further adds, raising doubts about the efficacy of the Turkish vaccine:

“The smallpox broke out among the Turks. Several people died; and, to make matters worse, they insisted upon inoculating themselves and all their slaves; thus the whole camp was racking with this horrible disease. …”

From The History of the Sudan Health Services by Ahmed Bayiumi. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi 1979 page 59