On the afternoon of Tuesday 23 October the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) held a Health Forum in Edinburgh’s City Chambers. Stuart Brown, the Deputy Chief Executive of the SMP, had invited me to deliver a 3 minute presentation on the MalDent Project, an opportunity I was delighted to accept.
This was my first visit inside the City Chambers, despite having walked past them on literally hundreds of occasions during my years as a student at Edinburgh University.
I was directed from the modern Reception area to the European Room, where the Health Forum was to be held. It was a very grand environment
Stuart welcomed us all to the meeting, explaining that this was a networking opportunity for those who had recently been granted funding from the Scottish Government Malawi Development Programmes Funding Round 2018.
The first part of the meeting was led by Ms Rachel Macleod, a midwife who had worked for many years in Malawi. Rachel’s presentation included a video which encapsulated her work and she then introduced the keynote speaker, Dr Ibe Iwuh, an obstetrician and gynaecologist with whom she had worked in Malawi. Ibe’s talk was inspirational and included some extremely innovative concepts, but also highlighted continuing challenges.
The second element of the event comprised four ‘3 minute presentations’ from those recently awarded Scottish Government grants. The four presentations were as follows:
Dr Christine Campbell & Prof Heather Cubie, University of Edinburgh: Moving towards sustainability: strengthening rural health facilities, upskilling providers and developing mentoring capacity to support roll-out of cervical cancer ‘Screen and treat’ services across Malawi.
Dr John Ferguson-Smith, St John Scotland: Community action and service access for maternal, newborn and child health.
Dr Barry Klaasen & Ms Gwen Gordon, NHS Tayside: Scottish Emergency Medicine – Malawi Project.
Prof Jeremy Bagg, University of Glasgow: Towards a Dental School for Malawi – The MalDent Project.
These four brief presentations highlighted the breadth of the support from Scottish Government for healthcare development in Malawi, but also the emphasis that was being put on sustainability within each of the projects.
With the exception of the MalDent Project the other presenters had already amassed significant experience of working in Malawi and the opportunities to learn from one another represent a real strength of the SMP for all of us, particularly newer projects such as MalDent.
Throughout the afternoon the SMP made good use of its Twitter channel (@ScotlandMalawi) to publicise the event.
If you would like to hear exactly what I said you can watch the video at https://youtu.be/MUw26xTLtt8
Following a very valuable question and answer session, Ms Kerry Chalmers explained the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme, which develops and promotes the NHS Scotland approach to Global Citizenship. It is chaired by John Brown, who is also the Chair of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (NHS GGC), while the Vice Chair is Mike McKirdy who chairs the Global Health Group at the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG). The support for the MalDent Project by both NHS GGC and the RCPSG is covered in earlier blog posts.
In summing up, Stuart Brown identified that the Health Forum had raised awareness of the Scottish Government funded health projects in Malawi and it was clear from the discussions that the meeting had already facilitated connectivity and promoted collaboration. David Hope Jones, Chief Executive of the SMP, asked whether delegates could identify any additional ways in which the SMP could facilitate the work of the project grantees and a number of suggestions were offered. In particular, the SMP will investigate the possibility of creating a virtual, digital forum for use in between physical Health Forum meetings.
One of the attendees from Scottish Government was Nicola Cogan, who is a very important player in the MalDent Project as she has been appointed as the Project Manager within Scottish Government.
We are delighted that Nicola is part of the team and look forward to working with her as the MalDent Project moves forward.
Many thanks to the SMP for organising the Health Forum and to those present who have already offered support for the MalDent Project – we look forward to ongoing collaboration and partnership!