Dr Londa appointed as Quality Improvement Manager

Imagine the scene: you are suturing a rebel in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The theatre table wobbles and there is no operating light. Nor is there antiseptic. Under these conditions, you might want to change the status quo.

Thus it was that Dr Leonard Londa, who has joined the senior management team at COHSASA as the Quality Improvement Manager, became intensely aware that he wanted to change and save lives by improving the safety and quality of healthcare in any situation in which he found himself.

Dr Londa arrived as a refugee from the Congo in 2010. He obtained his medical degree at Lubumbashi University in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in December 2008 and afterwards worked at the academic teaching hospital in Lubumbashi.

Promoted to superintendent of a hospital in a rural area, the Malemba-Nkulu Territory in the Haut-Lomani Province of the DRC, Londa had to start flexing his muscles as a clinician under pressure. This area, in the South East of the country, was also slap-bang in the middle of fighting between factions: a perennial feature of the DRC political landscape.

Says Dr Londa: “The maternal and infant mortality ratios were very high. We had one ambulance but that was out of order. So pregnant woman had to get to hospital by any means possible. They rode bicycles and we swept them up from canoes on the Congo River!  Unfortunately, some arrived too late and presented with a ruptured uterus and sepsis.

“Worse, the hospital was dirty, the theatre was dirty and there was no equipment. There was a chronic shortage of staff.”

Determined to make changes

Dr Londa, who has quality improvement imprinted in his DNA, made some changes. For one, he trained many community health workers to undertake tasks to assist mothers. He gave radio talks to educate and create awareness of potential problems in pregnancy.

“I was determined to make changes for the better.  I had to change the mindset of my peers and the community. I worked with NGOs in the area and recruited villagers to be health workers.

“Communication was a big issue and we never had enough air-time for our phones! I renovated the theatre and secured equipment. I tried to make changes. However, I had to flee eventually because of the war.”

After a long and winding road, Dr Londa arrived in South Africa. In October 2010, he worked as a medical officer at the Maluti Adventist Hospital in Lesotho. Here, he was involved in a wide range of clinical work including the management of HIV/AIDS/TB patients. He also took care of trauma cases and worked in the orthopaedic and gynaecology sections. He was the Quality Improvement Officer.

Since 2013 (and until he joined COHSASA) Dr Londa worked as the South Region programme manager and the Clinical and Quality Assurance Master Trainer at JHPIEGO in Lesotho. He was the manager at an HIV/AIDS/TB clinic and a trainer of voluntary medical male circumcision providers. He also took care of surgical emergencies.

Taking COHSASA’s mission forward

He hopes to take COHSASA’s mission forward.

“I want to give input into the COHSASA mission and make sure that whatever COHSASA stands for is being applied in the field.”

He will be overseeing the activities of all the COHSASA quality advisors. He has an interest in clinical research and wants to examine what obstacles stand in the way of a successful accreditation programme.

“I want to improve the quality and safety of health to change lives and thus lead to the creation of a more productive society. Many HIV patients only work 10 days in a month. This must change.”

Dr Londa is married with two children.