On September 11th, 2008 health workers at Matawale Health Centre, twinned to Whitefriars Red Practice in Scotland, had an auspicious occasion of planting a Mango Tree. This tree planting is in honour and remembrance of Dr Jeremy Gillingham, who was tragically killed in a ski accident several years ago in France.
Read more at http://www.thet.org/hps/health-partnerships/rneville
What is this about?
Your medical practice has chosen to form a ‘twinning’ link with a clinic in Malawi.
The Project was set up to help narrow the gap in access to healthcare between the developing and the developed world. Ten health centres across Scotland have formed twinning links with an equivalent clinic in Malawi. Your health centre thought it would be beneficial for both patients and staff to learn more about healthcare in another part of the world and to share in some of the technology advancements that assist work in Scotland.
How does it work?
The Scottish Government awarded the Project a grant to supply a computer and Internet connection to each of the Malawi clinics. The clinics in Malawi are staffed entirely by nurses and clinical officers. There are no doctors assigned to the clinic. Access to Internet resources helps the nursing team enjoy continuous professional development like their Scottish colleagues, update their clinical knowledge and contribute positive news stories from Africa.
Why is this relevant to my health centre and me as a patient?
Discussing medical issues with healthcare professionals in another part of the world helps your doctors, nurses and receptionists stay enthused about advancements in healthcare, it puts your practice on the global map and involvement might even restore some professional pride in the important work that the staff in Scotland do. More and more patients travel abroad for work and holidays. A visit to the travel clinic at your practice will be enhanced by the additional knowledge that on tropical medicine that staff gain from their Malawi colleagues.
Is there not enough already being done to help poorer countries?
Unlike a lot of traditional charities or aid organisation, this twinning link does not rely on a donor and recipient model. The benefit in learning and friendship aims to be two-way and sustainable. No money or resources will be diverted from Scottish patient needs.
Malawi and Scotland have a historical friendship that began with David Livingstone from Blantyre. Both countries are small and this makes making a measurable difference personal and tangible.
Is the NHS paying for the Malawi link?
No. The Project has a grant from the Scottish International Development Fund. In both countries, the core business of patient consultations always comes before anything else.
The Project is entirely non-for-profit and most people give their time for free.
Where is Malawi?
Malawi is a land-locked country in Central Africa. It has a population of 13 million people; 50% of whom are under 18 years of age.
Where do I find out more?
There is a Project ‘blog’ where patient issues are discussed together with interesting articles on health and technology. A security filter ensures that patient confidentiality is never compromised. ‘Blogging’ is simply a way of having an online discussion around a common interest. This is the web address: http://malawiclinics.org/ . Leave a comment or email the Project to tell us about you and the area in which you live: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Is there a role for fundraising?
Patients from other Scottish practices sometimes chose to donate or fundraise. For example, there have been fun-runs, quizzes, T-shirt designs and also donations in lieu of Christmas cards.
Most importantly, any money raised will be allocated to assist your twin clinic and will be accounted for in an open and transparent way.
I have experience of voluntary work or travel in Africa – is this relevant?
Yes. Please mention this to your Practice Manager and the Project can draw on your skills and expertise.