Developing Partnerships; Supporting Healthcare Delivery

Challenges and Potential in Health Care delivery in Malawi

  • Malawi is a low-income country, characterised by a heavy burden of disease, evidenced by a life expectancy of around 58 years.
  • In addition to a continuing high prevalence of infectious diseases, there is a growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). It is estimated that 5.6% of adults have diabetes and 33% have hypertension - the majority unrecognised and untreated.The Malawi Ministry of Health priorities now include the growing challenge of NCDs, and highlight the need to manage these through community healthcare services accessible to the whole population. 
  • The ability to meet these health challenges is compounded by the striking lack of health care staff resource at all levels. For example, there are fewer than two  doctors per 100,000 population in Malawi, compared to the UK with 277 doctors per 100,000 population. This highlights the need to develop a trained and supported healthcare workforce within the country.

Scotland has a close and longstanding relationship with Malawi and RCPE is a member of the Scotland Malawi Partnership.  Over the last few years, the College has been exploring, and developing, links with academic and healthcare institutes in Malawi which included a RCPE visit to Malawi in 2015 (supported by a start-up grant from THET) and a follow-up scoping visit in 2019 by Dr Albert McNeill, Tutor for Overseas Development.

  • Non-Communicable Disease Management in rural Malawi

This a joint project between RCPE and Nkhoma hospital - a 260-bed general hospital in central rural Malawi.  The key goal of this project is to create a trained health centre workforce, to allow sustainable delivery of programmes that will identify and treat common NCDs in the rural setting.  The experience and skills in NCD management within the RCPE community essentially matches the gap that exists within the small but dedicated clinical team within Nkhoma Hospital.

Following Dr McNeill’s visit in 2019 a hypertension screening service has been developed as a pilot project in three rural centres associated with Nkhoma Hospital. This initial service has been funded by the College and developed by Nkhoma Hospital doctors who have trained and supervised the health centre staff to allow local ownership and sustainability. To date over 2000 members of the public have been screened , of whom more than 200  have started antihypertensive therapy and it is planned to extend this service to other health centres. 







For further information about  this RCPE Partnership within Malawi please contact Ellie Barnes.