CNIS conducts our Safer Surgery and Obstetrics Program in the Malawi capital, Lilongwe, as well as in Blantyre in southern Malawi. The program includes courses for health practitioners, both on instructor and provider levels.
Although Malawi has a growing medical school and a well-developed Clinical Officers program, the country has not been able to produce or maintain adequate numbers of surgeons to meet the needs of the population. CNIS’ partners in Uganda initially identified the need for surgical skills training in Malawi and promoted the programs to their Malawian colleagues. CNIS was invited to Malawi and began working there in 1998.
CNIS’ first Essential Surgical Skills (ESS) Instructors Workshop was held in the spring of 1999. The course was facilitated by CNIS Drs. Ronald Lett and Robert H. Taylor. After enthusiasm shown at the College of Health Sciences in Blantyre in 2000, the ESS course has now been incorporated into the curriculum of the college. The Medical College in Blantyre, which is growing rapidly, has renewed its commitment to ongoing partnership with CNIS. In Lilongwe, ESS courses have also been conducted at the Clinical Officers School. The ESS course teaches Malawian health professionals a standard set of forty life-saving skills for medical emergencies. In the last decade, Dr. Taylor has taught the course at 6 separate occasions, earning him the name “our man in Malawi”.
In 2008, Dr. Naboth Mbembati from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, traveled to Malawi to facilitate the teaching the courses with Dr. Jon Just from Kamloops, BC. This is one of the first times one of our African partners has facilitated a course in a different African country.
Dr. Marcel Schutgens of the College of Medicine in Blantyre, under Dutch support, was an important partner for CNIS activities in Malawi, until his departure in 2006. His enthusiasm resulted in the development of the surgical skills lab, run in partnership with the University of Malawi. ESS courses are now taught in the lab, which is situated on the university campus.
The implementation of ESS in Malawi has been crucial for increasing the number of capable Malawian health professionals. There have been exciting changes in the decade we have taught in Malawi. The original group of certified instructors consisted of six faculty, all from Blantyre and only two Malawian. The current group of certified instructors includes 19 faculty, the majority of them Malawian, coming not only from Blantyre, but also from Lilongwe, Zomba and other districts. CNIS has run 2 ESS courses annually in Malawi.
Malawi ESS Directors and Patrons
Prof. Nyengo Mkandawire – Patron, Blantyre
Dr. Devour Kumiponjero – Director, Blantyre