MEDIC MALAWI | Medic Malawi Newsletter March 2019
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Rita Phiri, 81 years old

Medic Malawi Newsletter March 2019

St Andrew’s

Dr Phil Delbridge vividly sets the scene :

Working at St Andrews hospital during the later part of the afternoon you’ll sometimes hear the wonderful sound of the All Saints Church choir drifting down on the breeze as they rehearse in the church. The sound of an African church choir is something difficult to describe. Rather than having a conductor’s baton to follow, a Malawian choir will keep time with each other by dancing – stepping lightly from one foot to the other, swaying their hips and swinging their arms to the same tempo. When their voices break out into song it is rich, soulful and joyful. I would almost say it is worth travelling to Malawi just to hear them.

from Peter Minjale :

20th March 2019

Dear Mr. Drew,


On behalf of St. Andrew’s hospital I am very grateful to Medic Malawi for the support towards the March 2019 ear health clinic support. This work was implemented with technical support from the ABC Audiology clinic personnel.

It was on 4th March when we conducted ear health  at St. Andrew’s hospital. We attended to a total of 139 patients with ear related problems. Following an outreach ear health clinic from 5th to 6th March we attended to a total of 289 patients at Bua health centre right in Kasungu district.

-At St. Andrew’s hospital out of the 139 patients, 105 patients had come for check-up following hearing impairment problems as of February ear health clinic. Out of these 105 reviewed patients we had 55 patients confirmed to have their hearing functionally improved following the February interventions i.e. treatment for various causes of the hearing impairment.

Out of the 139 patients 42 were fitted with hearing aids while 3 of them required Bone Conductors.

-At Bua outreach Clinic out of the 289 patients, 187 patients were confirmed to have  hearing loss from different causes some of which were treated and due for check-up next month. 35 out of the 289 patients would benefit from hearing aids while 5 would benefit from bone conductors.

-In conclusion a total of 428 patients were seen during the St. Andrew’s and Bua ear health clinics. Out of the 428 patients by age 30% were 1 to 15 years old, 52% were  16 to 40 years old and 18% were 41 to 90 years old. By gender 59% were males and 41% were females.  Total of 8 patients required bone conductors and 77 required fitted hearing aids.

– Out of the total 428 patients, 10 were referred for Tympanoplasty i.e. surgical operation performed for the reconstruction of the eardrum and/ or the small bones of the middle ear. There were also 2 patients who required Grommets i.e. a tube surgically implanted in the eardrum to drain fluid from the middle ear.

QUALITY HEARING AIDS BEING FITTED TO A BENEFICIARY: Rita Phiri, 81 years old (in grey jacket) having Hearing Aids fitted from an audiologist at St. Andrew’s hospital. Thanks to Medic Malawi for the support to fund the clinic.

RETAINING HEARING IMPROVES THE GENERAL WELL BEING: These are words from Mark Alifeyo, 74 years old man who received hearing aids at St. Andrew’s hospital ear clinic for March 2019.

HEARING IS A HEALTH RIGHT TO EVERYONE: Margret Phiri, 29 years old (left)  and Levison Kawaye, 61 years old  (right) are some of the beneficiaries who got hearing aids and expressed their gratitude to St. Andrew’s hospital and their supporters for introducing the Ear health clinic. As a hospital we are grateful to Medic Malawi for the funding support.

EAR HEALTH SERVICE PROMOTION DEMANDS OUTREACH CLINICS: Bua ear outreach clinic showing Internal and External views for the waiting patients.



Once again we have a total of eight patients who require bone conductors.

Kind Regards,


Dr Delbridge continues ………

My name is Philip Delbridge. In 2011 I spent a month visiting St Andrews hospital as a medical student on elective. These days I’m a registrar (a middle grade doctor) specialising in Emergency Medicine. So I normally work in the UK’s busy A&E departments. Earlier this year, at the end of July, I travelled back to Malawi with my wife, Kate, who is also a doctor. It had always been my intention to return to the country after I’d fallen for it as a student. Luckily, my wife also loves Malawi and has worked here in the past. We live in the south – in Blantyre, the country’s largest city (although the capital is Lilongwe) – where we’re both working as volunteer doctors.

When I arrived at St Andrews in August of 2011, the Forsyth Operating Theatre and Surgical Ward had just been added to the hospital. Since then so much more has been done to expand the facility. There is a new Paediatric wing, which has also inpatient NRU (Nutritional Rehabilitation Unit) beds. The old Paediatric ward has been taken over by the expanded male and female adult wards. The Shrewsbury School Eye Clinic has been added, where Ophthalmologist Mr Amos Nyaka performs monthly operating lists. Additionally, there is a new section of the hospital for the Accountancy and Human Resources teams as well as a large Pharmacy storeroom. All of this is new to me. The Pharmacy is well stocked and well organised, a stark contrast to many other hospitals in the country (and I’ve worked at some of them) where medication is often in short supply and poorly organised. All of this progress has been made possible thanks to the kind support of all of Medic Malawi’s followers.

Returning to the hospital, I was delighted to see that some old friends were still working there. Mr Peter Minjale, the lead Clinical Officer, was Medical Director of the hospital when I was there in 2011. He’s a lovely man who has been working diligently at St Andrews for such a long time now. All the staff at the hospital still look up to him, referring to him as ‘Chief’, which is a very Malawian way of showing deference to a respected individual.

Another factor in all of this, which is rather interesting, is that it is desirable in Malawi to be big. In the West, the stereotypical portrayal in the media of an attractive individual (especially a woman) is usually someone slim. This is what we’re meant to find appealing and indeed many people do. In Malawi it’s very different. Being big is associated with wealth and strength and good health. Within living memory Malawi has experienced food crises. The years 2002 & 2005 were particularly bad but also as recently as 2012-2013 there were significant shortages of food in some parts of the country. So it’s perhaps understandable that a Malawian might like the idea of a potential partner who carries a bit of weight on them. The other aspect is HIV. This disease still has a certain amount of stigma and fear associated with it. The thinking is that HIV normally makes you lose weight and become skinny, so if someone is fat they’re unlikely to have the virus. Indeed, there is a certain amount of truth to this (although for patients who are on effective treatment weight loss should be less of a problem).

In Malawi, the hot season usually reaches its peak around October and November. These months bring vivid colours in the flora of the country – notably the scarlet ‘Flame’ trees, the purple-flowering ‘Jakaranda’ trees and the multi-coloured ‘Candelabra’ trees. Now that we’re moving into December we’ve seen the dry season coming to an end and the arrival of the rainy season, which is heralded by characteristically spectacular thunderstorms. Once the rains set in the landscape is transformed. Dry and dusty terrain turns to lush green as the grass grows tall and the skeletal Baobab trees break out in leaves.

This is also a very busy time for the Malawian people. Only 3% of the Malawian population live in cities. The remainder of the country’s 18.6 million people live in rural areas, predominantly in small villages. The vast majority of these people are farmers and in fact even the city-dwellers often have a plot of land in the countryside where they can grow their maize, which is the staple crop of the nation. With the rains, the people are hard at work tilling the land and planting their crops. There are no tractors to speak of so it all has to be done by hand and much of the work is carried out by women. A simple hoe is all they use to work over the soil and break it up. After spending an afternoon working over the garden at the AMAO orphanage in this way, I can say from first-hand experience how tough going it is.

Nobody wants to be ill at any time but this is perhaps the worst time of year for a Malawian to become unwell. Should they be unable to plant their land in a timely fashion they risk going hungry for the rest of the year. It’s a real worry for many of the villagers around Mtunthama, where the majority of St Andrew’s patients come from. As a result, the number of inpatients at the hospital is currently lower than average with people desperate to stay at home to get on with the required work. However, the worry for clinicians is that people will leave it too late before seeking help when they do fall ill.

Genesis Girls’ Hostel – built to enable girls to have continuity of education despite difficult home circumstances

Our Headmaster , Michael Masudi writes : 

“The Hostel is still accommodating more students. More parents are now sending more girls to stay in the boarding as such the hostel is now overcrowded.  Officially it has the capacity to hold 80 students but now it is accommodating 126 students including 2 boarders who are albino and are sisters .We have made 10 more beds but there are no mattresses. 

The best student during 2018 MSCE results is a boarder from genesis hostel.  Currently best student in Form3 is a girl from the boarding and is an albino.

Finally , let me report that the Matron for Genesis Hostel has started doing her job and is staying in the newly constructed Matron House  .  She is a teacher in geography and her husband is a science teacher teaching chemistry and maths and is heading science department”.

(Happily I have received the funds for additional beds) .

Thanks to all supporters for the continued Power of Your Giving


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