Thanks to your support and continued interest, Positive Steps is still growing. During our trip we really wanted to make sure that your money is making a real difference and also to explore how we could further support Health Care in Malawi. We want to be able to deliver continued support in the areas in which we already work, but can see that there are other areas that we may also be able to support.
One of these is in the area of diabetes … It is perhaps easy to associate health care in sub-Saharan Africa with tropical diseases, however the chronic diseases that we see in the UK (namely high blood pressure and diabetes) are also a very real problem in Malawi. The hope at Nkhoma hospital is to improve monitoring and prevention, but also to provide foot care for patients with diabetes (Diabetes causes loss of sensation in the feet and subsequently ulcers and infection). David and Catherine would like to introduce a specialist foot care clinic and perhaps provide shoes for diabetic patients, which is something we are hoping to be able to support in the future.
The team at Nkhoma Hospital would eventually like to support chronic disease management in the rural health centres to alleviate the vast amount of patients attending clinics at Nkhoma (up to 200 per day). This is something that we are hoping to support in the future, once we know more about the plan.
Also… little things can really help. Insulin for the diabetic patients needs to be kept in a refrigerator and at the moment the nurses in the medical ward have to store the insulin for diabetic patients in the maternity ward fridge (which is quite a walk a way from the medical department). Positive Steps has allocated funds to purchase a small camping type fridge for the insulin on medical ward.
Catherine (above) holding an Insulin vial.
Having spoken to Reynier Ter Harr and David Moreton whilst in country, it is clear that there is much work to be done at Nkhoma hospital. When you think that there is no radiotherapy equipment in the whole of Malawi and that an ambulance only lasts about 5 years (due to the extreme conditions) you can see that it is a constant battle to maintain funding and the current level of services, but also to continue to improve them. Whilst these types of projects are beyond the scope of positive steps, perhaps we may be able to support more in the future with specific projects if the right groups looking to make a difference could be found? It also remains a dream that one day we could secure funding to support medical training for a Malawian clinician… who knows?
Malawi … the warm heart of Africa …
Overall, this was a really successful trip and we are looking forward to being able to visit again in the coming years.
Jane & Nick, July 2014