Welcome to a labor of love!
I first came to Malawi in 1995 as a Peace Corps volunteer and was posted to the medical department at Kamuzu Central Hospital. A year later, I met Gerry Douglas, a VSO volunteer, turned out to be a significant person in my life. I left Malawi late 1997 feeling like a wounded soldier. We both came back to Malawi to visit in 2000. Then came the birth of Baobab Health Partnership which had an office the size of a walk-in closet with 3 staff members...I started taking groups of senior medical students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to KCH for clinical rotations in 2001. The Global Health Residency Tract in internal medicine started in 2006 at UPMC.
The medical ward at KCH is no doubt a challenging place for clinicians to work and for students to learn. Over the years, I have gotten to know the cleaners, the patient attendants, the nurses, the clerks, the clinical officers, doctors, students (of course, the students then become qualified CO and doctors) and have come to understand their struggles and aspirations although I am not certain that any of us truly has the answer or solution. Currently, we have a few residents doing 2 month-long rotations at KCH annually both in a learning and training-supporting role. Our institution covers for resident travel expenses and also compensates (token amount) local mentor for teaching and supervision. Through Gerry and my own saving, we try to support small initiatives to improve work environment for staff and student research projects. Organizations like Global Links and friends like Jean Roemer help with glucometers, strips and hospital supply. I'm a strong believer in keeping HOPE alive because if you have ever been through the halls of 2A/4A and 2B/4B, you probably heard words like dying, death, chaotic, dysfunctional...but not hope. I am hopeful that through solidarity, partnership, respect, (and more) long-term collaboration between universities, governments, NGOs outside/inside Malawi to strengthen health professional training and health systems we will achieve better health care and health for Malawians. I hope I live to see the day. T.