May 17, 2020

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation grants $300,000 to Lifenet International

Africa
healthcare services
Africa
healthcare services
Catherine Sturman
2 min
Uganda (Getty Images)
LifeNet International has received a $300,000 grant installment from The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to fund life-saving and life-improving healthcare t...

LifeNet International has received a $300,000 grant installment from The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to fund life-saving and life-improving healthcare training with Catholic Sister-led health facilities in Uganda.

Through its growing franchise network of 100 plus facilities, global non-governmental organization (NGO), LifeNet International transforms healthcare for more than one million patient visits every year in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.

It encompasses a holistic approach by providing both business and healthcare-related training to existing faith-based centers to ensure the delivery of a compassionate, efficient, and enhanced standard of care.

The $300,000 is the second installment in a three-year, $900,000 grant from the Foundation. To date, the grant has enabled LifeNet to establish 10 new partnerships with sister-led health centers in the districts of Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Luwero, Masaka, and Sembabule in Uganda.

As part of these partnerships, LifeNet trains and equips health workers at the sister-led centers, giving them the power to dramatically improve healthcare outcomes for 56,000 patients in sub-Saharan Africa.

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“Our facility has greatly benefited from LifeNet training,” said Sister Mary, a health worker in the Luwero Diocese. “We were not consistently taking weights for children until we learned during the training that weight was required for correct calculation of medication.

After realising we may have been giving incorrect doses, we have now made it a routine to take every child’s weight to avoid potential errors.”

Sister Mary works as a nurse in a health center in Uganda, where she and her fellow health workers are receiving life-saving medical and management training from LifeNet.  The training is equipping them with the knowledge and tools they need to provide quality healthcare to their patients.

Health workers are learning proper hand washing, which the World Health Organization calls “the building block for infection prevention and control”; compassionate care, which is often overlooked during health worker training; IV insertion; sterilization of instruments; correct medication dosing; financial and organizational management; and other best practices that are saving and improving lives in Uganda.

By 2025, LifeNet plans to double the quality of care received in 20,000,000 patient visits to 1,000 franchised health centers operating in 10 African countries.

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

#longcovid
#digitaltherapy
#neuroplasticity
#covid19
4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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