Meetings, meetings and hospital visits: RCSI team undertook a field trip to Malawi.
At the end of August, the RCSI team visited Malawi in order to work with the local partners towards increasing the visibility of the project at national and regional level. The team attended several meetings, both formal and informal and here are the highlights:
The team met the Irish Ambassador in Malawi Mr. Gerry Cunningham. This meeting provided a good opportunity to introduce the project, and to showcase the impact SURG-Africa has had so far. We exchanged ideas about future collaboration opportunities and learned about the Irish Aid programmes in Malawi.
Secondly, the team participated in the SURG-Africa workshop organised by the Malawi team as part of the Surgical Association of Malawi Annual General Meeting and COSECSA scientific conference held in Lilongwe on the 23-24 Aug 2018. The meeting brought together clinicians from SURG-Africa intervention district facilities and specialists from central hospitals in Malawi, surgical specialists and experts from other COSECSA member states and Malawi MoH representatives. The theme of the workshop was ‘Surgery in the Districts’ allowing SURG-Africa to demonstrate the project’s achievements and findings to-date. Gerald Mwapasa, project coordinator in Malawi, presented on the success of SURG-Africa peer support surgical Clinical Managed Network based on WhatsApp. This groups allows district level clinicians to access specialists based at central hospitals in real time, and get advice in case in doubt about case management.
The group helps streamlining surgical referrals and provides a platform for learning and feedback. Following Gerald’s talk representatives from 6 district hospitals presented their experience of participating in the SURG-Africa intervention at their facilities. As one of the COSECSA delegates said: it was a real eye-opener for senior surgeons to see the conditions in which district level clinicians practice surgery. District clinicians received a round of applause for being able to work in such challenging conditions.
The team also visited district hospitals in Mulanje, Chiradzulu, and Thylo. We used this opportunity to get an insight into day to day practice of local clinicians. It was great to see the benefits of the SURG-Africa intervention, especially improved data collection using project-designed theatre logbooks.