Updates from Malawi

With the latest episodes of Anne's African Adventures - November / December 2023.

(click or tap on any image to start the slideshow)

1st December 2023 - GLOBAL GRANT - (Updated Jan 24 to include final report and a link to the must see photos taken on completion.)  Good news about global grant signage.

29.11.2023 Update from Malawi.

Our two weeks here is almost over so we are running uphill trying to finish so many of our projects before we leave. If we succeed it will be against the odds as it is not in the Malawian nature to move or work quickly! But if we don’t succeed we worry that nothing will happen until our next visit.

For example, as part of our global project, we bought a large capacity washing machine so that all laundry can be done in house. It was being plumbed in as we left in April. On returning this week (7 months’ later) it had not been used even once. They had simply continued washing by hand outside. So we had some training and watched it go through it’s very first cycle this week! 

More on the GG next time, but I can say that the patient satisfaction survey is so far showing very positive comments about the facilities and standard of care, bearing in mind, you can in no way compare this with our UK wonderful health service.

But I can report definite progress in some areas;

The cochlear implant patients continue to thrive and all were reviewed last week – some seen here with the surgeons Dave Strachan and Chris Raine from UK and Wakisa Mulwafu, also local audiologist Chico.

We put on a 4 day meeting which, unfortunately, could not be attended by all our Malawi CO’s this time due to lack of funds, but had a great international attendance. One positive outcome was the drafting and finalising of protocols for the treatment of ENT conditions. 

The number of clinical officers and the areas in which they work have both been increased since our last visit and I was able to update the map for them, showing 58 ENT CO’s and 9 audiologists (all of whom have been equipped by Bradford West Rotary) working in 23 locations throughout Malawi.

Link to Map of Audiology & Clinical Officers in Malawi.

A huge project driven by Chris R working with the Malawi Relief Fund is to purchase and install 2 Autoclaves in our ENT unit here. When we first arrived, Chris almost broke his body unpacking them until hospital and maintenance staff were called in to help. A suitable area has been prepared, they are in place, the electrics, plumbing and water supply has occupied much of this week. 

These autoclaves will make a tremendous difference to the work of the unit. At present, the instrument trays and other theatre stuff has to be sent to the central hospital autoclave – they have 5 but only one works, intermittently. So there can be significant delays and our equipment has often gone missing or “been borrowed” as Chris would say. 

Now we can keep everything on the unit. The very expensive, specialised instruments we have donated will not go missing and can be looked after properly by our own staff.

We have bought material locally this week to make new wraps and theatre drapes – you would not believe the state of the holy, worn material used at present.

And, of course, we have visited Andrew’s Butterfly children and will do so again on Friday when they will receive the gifts sent by you and other UK Rotarians. I shall tell you all about that on our return, with photos and videos.

Meanwhile Andrew is so very grateful for the donation sent by our club which has come at a most critical time. The Butterfly kids who had no uniform were to be denied entry to their schools to take their exams this week. If you remember, the tuition that Andrew and his staff have given had already made a huge difference to the education of these children and for the first time they were passing exams, one even coming top of his class of 150! To be denied the opportunity to take these exams would have been devastating. So Andrew is using the money to get them all the uniform they need!


Update November 2023.
AnnE, Chris B and Chris R are back in Malawi. AnnE's latest update sent to Robert M 23/11/23 is below.

We are having a good week in Malawi. It is good to see Chris Bem again. He has been here for a few months and providing a bit of continuity.

We met up with Andrew and his American sponsor on Monday and plan to visit the butterfly children tomorrow, taking a suit case full of stationary and educational toys donated by UK Rotarians. We shall also give him the donation from our club. Thank you to everyone who contributed.There are so many people to catch up with - one we are avoiding this week as she has typhoid - apparently fairly common here at present!

Other UK Consultants have joined us and we are busy teaching, training and equipping clinical officers, registrars and audiologists, installing medical equipment, meeting fellow Malawi Rotarians ( some school children have been fundraising for Purple Pinkie ( Polio Plus) and came to a Rotary meeting today. I was able to tell them what our Rotakids did for world polio day this year and answer lots of questions about Rotary.

I am optimistic that the signage for our global grant project will go up next week. The private rooms are being really well maintained and are very popular with the patients. In fact, the whole ENT Unit receives much praise as compared to the rest of the hospital it is really good. I shall do the second patient and staff satisfaction survey whilst I am here.

So much more I could say but the most important message to convey to the club is that everyone here is very grateful for Rotary's continuing support.

We have not yet heard whether our application for the tree planting project with Andrew's butterfly kids has been successful - the latest message was we should hear in December!

The two Chris' and I send warm regards to you and club members - the temperature here is too hot!


Link to Update June 2023


Three of our members, AnnE, Chris B and Chris R are currently in Malawi. Part of their work there is checking the progress of a Rotary Global Grant project. Further detail here.

African Adventures part 2. 11th April 2022
Having been here for over a week now, it has become obvious that Covid has greatly disturbed the running of the unit. They have had to change the ward from ENT to Covid patients and back again. Now they are back, the ensuing chaos is slowly resolving but the culture here is very accepting of everything so it is an uphill struggle to get things back in order, but we are trying, all the while encouraged by the warmth of the people around us

Today we got the Clinical ENT Officers whom we have trained and equipped with the aid of our club’s District Grants to leave their district clinics in the South of Malawi and visit us here in “the centre of excellence" in QECH in Blantyre. Report of that meeting is attached. Our plan is to travel to Lilongwe next week and see the CO’s near there, then on to Nkhata Bay to see the 3 northern CO’s, hopefully enjoying the 
lakeside route.

In Addition, the two Chris’ have been hard at work clinically. They are overseeing the introduction of all the equipment we brought with us and also getting things in theatre and on the ward organised again. Today, both theatres were running, Chris R doing a cochlear implanting one, Chris B operating on an extremely complicated parotid tumour in the other. Amazing when you realise there is no medically trained anaesthetist in the hospital!

The Rotary Global Grant-funded refurbishment of the private rooms and the introduction of a nurses rest room is coming along now and the builder is about to complete phase 1 of the project. if the plans work, we will have a bit of publicity this week.
I am at the same time working with the Rotary Club of Limbe on phase 2 - the furnishing of the rooms - hoping to have a grand opening when we have the whole UK visiting team here in November. This phase two is when we might start spending the money we have saved in our club accounts.

This week we have also, through Rotary, made some new acquaintances which is increasing our network of local help.

Before we set off, I was asked to look after ENT Malawi Facebook page whilst we are here and I am attempting to do this, posting on both that site and on our Rotary pages - please feel free to send me comments and suggestions, and of course to share the posts if you like them so we reach many more people.

African Adventures 7th April 2022
We have started our much Covid-postponed trip to Malawi and have, to our delight, found things much the same here in the ENT and Audiology Units at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre with many old friends still here. We have sadly lost one of our clinical officers to Covid leaving a toddler to be brought up by the extended family. 

Here is an account of our adventure so far. - of course some of you will know all about it already from Facebook  !After being caught up in BA's global IT failure, Chris and I eventually arrived in Cape Town to be met late in the night by our colleague Chris Prescot and his wife at the airport. 
Chris P is a retired ENT consultant in Cape Town, S Africa. He  and his wife, Ruth, are not Rotarians, but he should be as he is constantly striving to help people however they can and the need is great here. 
Chris P has been with us in Malawi every visit until now - this time the air fare is so expensive he can't afford it, but will join us in Harare at the end of the month to help run a temporal bone teaching course for our Zimbabwe colleagues. I shall miss him as he and I have the clinical officers' work as our primary focus. 
Friday 1st April I contacted past District Governor, Michael Johnson, MPHF with whom we worked on the educational books for a school in Zimbabwe in 2019 and who lives in Somerset West and were immediately invited over with our hosts (whom they didn't know) to their beautiful home with swimming pool - quite a contrast to the Prescots' home which is luxury by SA standards but is very basic by ours. And it turns out they have several common friends!

Saturday 2nd was a breakfast meeting with two top Cape Town ENT surgeons in the beautiful Kirstenbosch gardens. It turns out that one of them was brought up in a Rotary family so understood exactly what we are doing. Ruth has been trained as a guide so gave us an amazing tour of the gardens and too much information to retain!
We ended the day with a visit to the Waterfront and a lovely fish meal there. 
Sunday up at 4am to catch our flight to JoBerg and on to Blantyre. We met up with Chris Bem on the final leg of the journey. 
Torrential rain greeted us as we disembarked. 
Amazingly all our heavily laden suitcases, packed with medical equipment, had arrived with us and we managed to avoid them being randomly searched by both the immigration officials and the police by casually mentioning we were living and working at the hospital. 
So it was like arriving at our second home and family, despite such a long time (Nov 2019) since we were last here. 
I shall try and keep you up to date on the ENT Malawi Facebook page and share it with our own pages

Since then, we have settled into our roles here as if we had never been away.
So very much to do as a lot of what we put in place has not continued in our absence and we have to start again.
However the global grant has progressed and the bedrooms and nurses rooms and entrance should be ready to re furnish yesterday, African time, which means possibly but not probably next week!
Meanwhile I have been to visit RC Limbe who send you their good wishes and am now working with them and with the hospital team to source the equipment we need locally.
We also are making plans to meet with all the clinical officers we have previously trained and equipped to review their work and any equipment repairs/replacements.
The two Chris’ are hard at work with difficult cases in the surgical theatre.
The equipment we shipped over has arrived intact and we are gradually deploying  that too.
When IT allows, will update you again.
Best wishes to everyone
AnnE, Chris R and Chris B


Updates from Malawi sub-pages:

and here it is!

Malawi Global Grant Update & Final Report

more With links to photos taken on completion, so you can see what an amazing job has been done.

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Class teaching – the older children are inside

Our work in Malawi

back We are involved in providing equipment and training to help prevent ENT disease in Malawi. The video below this picture is a wonderful way to express the work going on in Malawi.