Monday 17 June 2019

Gorey Health workers return from successful trip to Malawi

Dr Trevor Corrigan of the South East GP training scheme and Clinical Fellow Chikondi Mandula
Dr Trevor Corrigan of the South East GP training scheme and Clinical Fellow Chikondi Mandula

Sara Gahan

Six healthcare workers are just back from a successful trip to Malawi, where they have been helping advance the work of the Gorey Malawi Health Partnership.

Three GPs, a nurse, a pharmacist and a biomedical scientist worked in Mzuzu for one week, the third largest city in Malawi, in two hospitals. Their initial job was to, for the first time in Mzuzu, develop a system to help manage and treat patients with asthma and COPD.

Two of the GPs Who took part in the trip , Joe Gallagher and Peter Harrington, are based in The Palms Surgery on The Avenue. The Partnership was formed in May 2016. It links the Palms Surgery with two hospitals in Northern Malawi - Mzuzu Central Hospital and St John's Hospital.

In Mzuzu Central Hospital, there are 2,500 people attending with asthma and yet they had no inhalers for nine months of 2017. The healthcare workers educated others and developed systems and processes that would prove sustainable in Malawi.

During the week they spent in Mzuzu they worked with their clinical fellows Chikondi, Themba and Hastings and other staff at wards and outpatients to raise awareness about the management of asthma and COPD.

Peter Harrington, a GP in the Palms GP Surgery on The Avenue, said they are conscious, now that they are back in Ireland, of the vast distance between them.

'Mobile phones are everywhere in Malawi even though only eight per cent of the population has electricity,' said Peter. 'Using tools such as WhatsApp and Skype, we can deliver educational podcasts, discuss clinical cases and develop education initiative even at a great distance.'

The Gorey Malawi Health Partnership is primarily about clinical care, but it is important they ensure they are achieving this in an appropriate and sustainable way. Nurse Sharon Morrow undertook a series of governance and quality improvement workshops with clinical and management staff in Mzuzu.

Biomedical Scientist Chris Watson continues to advance the research arm of the work together with their key Malawian partner, laboratory scientist Master Chisale. He will also obtain his MSc this year from UCD following work with their partnership.

On returning home, the healthcare workers visited the Irish Ambassador in Lilongwe to discuss their work and future plans which were well received.

They met the Ministry of Health in Malawi to discuss how initiatives such as this can be scaled up. Dr Csabe Abel will travel to Malawi in August 2018 to continue the work in person while they continue with web conferences.

Mr Harrington said they are also planning to expand on other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Gorey Malawi Health Partnership would like to thank all of the companies and individuals who were critical to the success of the trip to Mzuzu this summer.

Gorey Guardian