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Musings from Malawi Part 1

Joy Kemp, Global Professional Advisor for the RCM
26 November, 2015

Musings from Malawi Part 1

Written on 23rd but posted today as had no internet before!

My feet have hardly touched the ground returning from my summer holiday in August.  Following successful trips to Uganda in September and Nepal in October, the global team has been fully occupied selecting, interviewing and preparing our member volunteer consultants for their placement in Uganda in January 2016, submitting our Action Research Proposal to the Ugandan Ministry of Health and recruiting more member consultants for positions with DFID in Bangladesh.  We’ve also been supporting the RCOG with their ‘Leading Safe Choices’ project and attending the launch at the House of Lords.  We contributed to a needs assessment led by UNFPA in Cambodia by Skype, visited Scotland for a three-day fact-finding mission about Malawi and attended the  annual THET (our project funder's) conference in Birmingham and the RCM conference in Telford.  I also presented a symposium at the NET healthcare education conference with my colleagues Louise Silverton and Aine Alam.  

My House of Lords souvenirs (just in case I never get invited again!)

With RCM Global Volunteers Tracy Miller, Jilly Ireland and Sue Petersen at the RCM Conference

Now we are in Malawi, undertaking a scoping visit/needs assessment to explore the possibility of a twinning relationship with the Midwives Association here.  We have a team of four: Eleanor and me from the RCM’s global team, Shirley Stronge, one of our members from Northern Ireland who has local knowledge from her six-year placement teaching midwifery in Malawi and also Mary Gorret Musoke, President of the Ugandan Private Midwives’ Association, our existing twinning partner.  Malawi is the world’s poorest country and has a very high maternal mortality rate of 574 per 100,000, one of the highest in the world.  It had hoped to reduce this to 155 by 2015 but is sadly far off this target.  Child marriage and adolescent pregnancies are a big problem here: half of all women are pregnant by the age of 18.  So there is much to do and there are many needs.  However, there are many agencies already working here so we are talking to a wide selection of stakeholders and travelling the length and breadth of the country in the next two weeks to identify strengths and gaps and ascertain whether there is a role for the support that we can provide.
Meeting AMAMI, the Association of Midwives in Malawi

Dinner on our first night - Shirley, Mary and Eleanor.  Mary tasting apple crumble for the first time!

At the Central Hospital in Lilongwe, with the Chief Midwife in Charge and the Labour Ward Matron.  Mary enjoying talking midwifery with her Malawian sisters

Exchanging gifts with Professor Address Malata, previous President of AMAMI and Principal of  Kamuzu College of Nursing

In our first day we met with AMAMI (the Midwives’ Association of Malawi), the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Family Planning Agency (UNFPA).  Yesterday we met the largest health training University in Africa (Kamuzu College of Nursing) and the Principal Address Malata who was previously the President of AMAMI and is currently the Vice President of the International Confederation of Midwives.    We've seen the Central Hospital in Lilongwe and a mission hospital and training school and met with midwives from GIZ, the German Government Aid Agency.We also met with the UK Department for International Development and had a chance encounter with the British High Commissioner in a corridor!  Having Shirley on our team is such a bonus, with all her local contacts.  We’re staying at a lovely guesthouse and are being taken to local restaurants serving great food at reasonable prices.  We’ve hired a car and a driver through a friend of a friend and will be staying in midwives’ houses in the north and south – this is sure to give us a fascinating insight into local customs and culture whilst also being economical.

We’ll be sharing more posts and pictures as our time here progresses.

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