Families in Malawi face a number of challenges with high rates of infant mortality, HIV and malaria.
According to WHO statistics, around 50 in every 1,000 children will die before they reach the age of five and, as recently as 2015, more than 3.6m people contracted malaria.
In addition to this, UNAIDS reports that in 2018, 1m people in Malawi were living with HIV – 38,000 having been newly infected – and 13,000 people lost their lives to an AIDS-related illness. This in a country of only 18m people.
In a bid to support healthcare provision in Malawi, Birmingham Children’s Hospital began an exchange partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi’s second city – and the scheme is now celebrating its 15th birthday.
Since joining together in 2004 a total of 122 staff exchanges have taken place, which has seen some of our nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and play specialists visit Malawi to share learning between health professionals and improve education, capacity, and patient experience.
The partnership, which is supported by the Birmingham Children’s Hospital charity, has also helped share and increase knowledge with trips led by its consultants from respiratory, haematology and neurology services over the years.
The project has also played a key role in helping train the first Malawian paediatric consultants and the development of a sustainable CPD course that has successfully secured a number of high-profile grants including from the Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) and the Burdett Nursing Fund.
Anna Tailby, the Trust’s co-lead for the Malawi Partnership said:
“Living and working in Malawi has been the highlight of my nursing career, I learnt more than I could have imagined from the wonderful team there who are caring for hundreds of extremely ill children every day.
“I improved my resuscitation, leadership and communication skills, which has led to me fulfilling my dream of becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner once I returned to Birmingham. Malawi is a beautiful and friendly country and I enjoyed exploring the mountains, lake and safaris.”
The successful partnership continues to provide six to 12 month volunteer placements for BCH clinical staff to work alongside the team in Malawi, along with two to three week consultant-led speciality training trips.
Applications are welcome from staff from all departments at BCH. Volunteers can take the time off as a sabbatical from their job, or an Out of Program Experience (OOPE) for trainees. The partnership can kindly support them with a grant to cover living and travel expenses.
A full programme of support is available pre-departure, during the placement and on return to the UK from our experienced team.
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