Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Back from Malawi.....

I have been remiss in keeping up my blog over the past few weeks - partly due to the lack of internet connection for some of the time that we were in Malawi. I thought that some readers may be interested in what we achieved, and some reflections on the overall experience. Our Scottish Government International Development Fund project focuses on the provision and retention of midwives in rural areas of Malawi. The achievement of the MDG-5 is an ongoing priority for the Government of Malawi and there continues to be real concerns about the maternal and infant mortality rates as described in this in-depth country analysis. The Government has introduced a new cadre of midwifery workers - the Community Midwifery Technician (CMT) - whose role focuses on midwifery care in rural areas. It is an 18-month programme and the first cohort of students has already completed.

The purpose of this most recent visit to Malawi was to undertake a syllabus review of the CMT programme as there had been some recognition of potential 'gaps' in the learning. In addition, we had been asked to work with the Colleges and the NMC, Malawi to develop a learning package for mentorship as there is an urgent requirement for these CMTs to receive mentoring as students and as newly qualified CMTs. We achieved what we set out to do, and the documents are with the Ministry of Health in Malawi as we speak. From a  personal learning perspective it was an amazing trip that taught me as much about myself as it did about the context that we were working in. We facilitated the sessions with colleagues from the Colleges and from the NMC and worked hard to ensure that the outcomes and outputs were what the people in the room were looking for and what they thought would work. The cultural learning for me was immense having never worked outside of Europe, the States and Australasia.

It is a three-year collaborative project with our Malawian collaborators taking a leading role in its monitoring and evaluation. I look forward to what comes next and hope that together we can make a difference in a small way, but with potential for learning more widely.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Midwifery in Malawi

I am on my way to Malawi (currently delayed in Ethiopia) for my first trip for a project which we are doing in partnership with University of Aberdeen and Ministry of Health Malawi. For this trip we are undertaking a curriculum review of the Community Midwives Training in collaboration with the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi (and other stakeholders). In addition, we are working with colleagues to develop a mentorship programme - both for those supporting the CMTs currently, and for integration into existing educational programmes with the aim of building capacity and capability. Maternal and infant mortality is still a real problem in Malawi - particularly in rural areas where the focus of this project lies. Ideally the Ministry of Health and the NMC are hoping to recruit and retain qualified midwives in rural areas so as to improve the mortality and morbidity.

It is going to be a fascinating week - one where I will personally experience many different things, not least my first experience of Africa. If anyone is reading this who has experience of similar work, I would be delighted to hear from you.