MEDIC MALAWI | Newsletter, July 2009
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Newsletter, July 2009

July 6, 2009 by Vicky

St Andrew’s Hospital now has a staff of seventy one and growing, and so the building of staff houses is a major part of development. We have a new surgical ward and an ART centre(to care for HIV/AIDS patients). Whilst it is encouraging to note that the incidence of HIV infection in the total population is falling – 14.6% in 2007, 12.6% in 2009 – of chronic condition admissions 45% are HIV+. It is also encouraging to see the reduction in mother-child transmission of HIV as a result of education, and the improving incidence of ante-natal testing.

The Ministry of Health is funding the training of our clinicians in ARV management, and St Andrew’s will be the principal HIV/AIDS centre in Kasungu East district. Generally the hospital is seeing an ever-increasing number of patients. St Andrew’s is also set to become the Kasungu East centre for all but the most complex surgical procedures, working closely with Kasungu General Hospital. Future plans include enhanced water supplies, enhanced electrical supplies through the use of additional generators, ideally solar power/water heating, additional wards and an administration block as funding becomes available.

Gemma Barrow, a medical student, spent 6 weeks at St Andrew’s. She writes:

I did learn such a lot. I learned how to prescribe drugs that aren’t routinely used; how to practise real clinical medicine where a diagnosis isn’t solely made on the basis of test results as the tests aren’t available. When I arrived the Hospital did not have the reagents to test blood levels; about half way through my stay we received the equipment which made a big difference. I’ve left part of my heart in the village and I can’t wait to return sometime in the future.

School Visits

During our summer break there will be 4 school groups going to Mtunthama. Sedbergh School from Cumbria have sponsored the building of a much-needed Guardian Shelter, and during their visit will decorate the whole of the interior.

This is the kitchen area of the new Guardian Shelter, also to be decorated by the Sedbergh students. The tree stump will grow again, providing shade on hot days.

Monkseaton School from Tyne and Wear will be busy decorating the Primary School; St Peter’s School, Exeter will work with All Saints’ Secondary School and build a classroom for the nearby government primary school; and Wrekin College will again spend most of their time decorating AMAO (the orphanage). They have also funded the purchase of a vehicle to be used as an ambulance, and 2 of their staff will drive it from Johannesburg to Mtunthama – quite an adventure in itself! In addition to the work they will carry out, there is no doubt that all the UK students will enjoy time spent getting to know a different culture and sharing activities with their peers in the schools and orphanage.

A parachute sent to AMAO by Noah’s Ark, a children’s group at St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth, proved to be a massive hit. The visiting students from UK will certainly be dragged in to play!

AMAO, the orphanage

AMAO, the orphanage, has forty two resident children, 9 children cared for by adoptive families and 2 who somehow manage to divide their time very happily between adoptive families and AMAO! Florence and Boyson who have run AMAO since it began, without pay and without even a room to themselves, now have a small room of their own. When we said we would get 2 beds for them their immediate response was that 3 were needed, because all the babies would be sleeping in the room with them!

There is a great deal of help provided by the local community, quite apart from those who have adopted children. All Saints’ Church gave all its maize, originally earmarked for the Diocese, to the orphange, any electrical or plumbing work is done without charge by local tradesmen, volunteers drop in to help on a regular basis, and people turn up unannounced with small gifts of maize or vegetables to help feed the children. The older children do all their own washing, and are responsible for other tasks such as looking after little ones, cooking, chopping firewood for the kitchen and so on. The Mothers’ Union has cleaned the whole of the interior, including washing down all the walls. AMAO is a wonderfully happy place.

Because there are 9 babies, large amounts of formula milk are required, the cost of which is a major drain on resources. We would love to be able to offer the children a better diet with more protein, but that depends, as everything, on funding.

This little girl came to AMAO after her mother died in childbirth. As the mother’s name was Joyce, it was decided to call the baby Rejoice. She is now 2 years old, and seldom to be seen without a drink of milk. Isaac, Grace and Henry from AMAO

Primary School

The Primary School now has 137 pupils, of whom 60 are sponsored by people in UK, All Saints’ Secondary School has 285 students of whom 45 are sponsored. The secondary school is completing the building of a science laboratory which will be a great asset. St Faith’s Kindergarten continues to provide care, food and basic teaching to some sixty children.

It is perhaps salutary to see a classroom – and remember that not all primary schools in Malawi have classrooms even as good as this. The bricks on the dirt floor are seats for the children. The cost of sponsoring a child at secondary school is £40 a year, and at primary £50 a year. There are always more children in need of sponsorship than there are sponsors.

Thank you all for your continuing support.

With your help, Medic Malawi really is


God bless you all.
Dot and Mac Forsyth


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