1. In which area were you born? Tell us about your early life, family and upbringing, education.
I was born in Salima which is in the central region of Malawi along the Lakeshore. I have been brought up in a family of six children, by my mother because she divorced my father when I was three. I am the fifth born and have two brothers and three sisters. I got in contact with my father when I was seventeen, while I was in form four, but he died eight years ago.
My father was a mechanic and my mother was a nurse midwife but has now retired after thirty two years of nursing. I went to primary school when I was six in Blantyre, then attended upper primary in Salima as my mother was transferred to a different hospital.
I was fourteen when I started my secondary school education in Lilongwe as I was selected by the Government to attend Lilongwe girls secondary school.
2. What about your early career?
When I finished form four I applied to one of the missionary nursing schools and I was selected to do my training in Lilongwe for nursing and midwifery. After completing three years of training in nursing and midwifery I began working for a Catholic Mission Hospital where I found my two colleagues who introduced me to St Andrews Hospital. They had only trained in general nursing and not midwifery so they informed me that in Mtunthama there was a health centre that needed nurses that were trained in midwifery and that I should contact them. I contacted the Hospital Administrator and he said ‘we welcome you’ so I started working at St Andrews in 2003.
3. Tell us about your own family and children.
I am married to Peter Munjale, we have been married for eight years. We met in Lilongwe when we were both students; Peter was originally posted in the Southern region of Malawi, but then came to join me at St Andrews Hospital in 2004. We have two children, one boy is six years old and a seven month old girl.
4. Have you had any training since you started working here?
I am the first health worker to undergo training at St Andrews Hospital. I went to Lilongwe for eighteen months to train as an Anaesthetist. I have had other training, but it has been short term usually either one or two weeks. Training I have completed include antenatal drug training and emergency management of children.
5. Tell me about your normal working day.
I usually start work at 7.30am till 4.30pm Monday- Fridays, half days on Saturdays. During the evenings and weekends I can be called for an emergency, so I am on call at all times. I have left the nursing side so now do clinical work, medical consultations and when there is a need for a C-section I leave the clinical side and come to the theatre to do the Anaesthesia. The average number of C-sections a month varies but I usually help with six C-sections a month.
If St Andrews Hospital meets with the agreements from the Ministry of Health, we have more C-sections. The operating theatre opened on the 4th August 2010. Currently we have had 173 cases; out of these 70 have been C-sections, 8 major operations, 7 Hernias and 78 cases which have been minor operations.
I have worked on all of these cases and only had complications with two cases with Anaesthesia which I managed well and I am happy about. Often with Anaesthesia cases we expect complications but out of 173 cases only two occasions have I experienced this.
6. What would be the biggest things to help you do your job better?
The best thing to help me do my job better would be to have enough equipment and resources especially in the theatre. The equipment we are in need of include Oxygen concentrators, sucking machines, power Oximeter and scarce drugs should be available in the outpatients department as well as the theatre. In cases where emergency treatment for children is required, my wish would be to have a high dependency unit where we could keep very sick cases.
Also finance is a problem conditions have changed due to democracy and patient policy. In the past we used to get different loans from banks based on the worker and their patients, but we are no longer able to get a loan based on patients so it has become a problem.
If it is possible we would benefit from a bigger loan based on patients from Medic Malawi as the banks are refusing to lend us money. I would like to thank Medic Malawi for giving me the opportunity to do the Anaesthetists course and I really like my job.
7. What do you do on Saturdays and Sundays?
During the weekends I am at home with my family and on Sundays we go to church. I also do some field work as we like farming.
8. Do you have a favourite place in Malawi?
One of my favourite places in Malawi would be Mtunthama, I have been here since 2003 so must like it otherwise I would have left. (Laughs) We usually spend our holidays here as we enjoy this area. I also enjoy going to the Lake or Lilongwe as both are parents are there and all my siblings live in Lilongwe, I am the only one from my family to leave Liongwe.