Our grant from the Scottish Government, as part of its Malawi Development Programme 2018-2023, commenced on 1st October 2018. We had a deadline of 30 April 2019 to submit a narrative report and a budget report on the first six months of the project, together with a revised log-frame. The documents were duly sent and on Thursday 23rd May, Deirdre Kelliher and I were visited at Glasgow Dental School by Ian Nicol, Nicola Cogan and Estelle Jones from Scottish Government to review the reports and progress.
It was a positive meeting. The successful completion of the BDS curriculum development and its approval by the University of Malawi was a very significant milestone, permitting advertising for applicants to commence studies in August this year. So if you navigate to the College of Medicine web-site at https://www.medcol.mw/ this is what you will see:
You can follow the link to the advert for the BDS degree, which commences with the following:
The advert speaks of the collaborative efforts of local and international stakeholders in reaching this critical stage of being able to offer the programme. One of the other major points of discussion with Ian, Nicola and Estelle was the large number of partners who are now closely involved with the MalDent Project. In addition to those mentioned in the advert above, these include the charities Dentaid, Bridge2Aid, Smileawi and the Borrow Foundation and the dental supply company Henry Schein. This extensive network of collaborators is a real strength of the project.
There is a requirement to complete some re-profiling of the budget in relation to the timing of activities and in order to re-align the budget with the revised log-frame that was constructed with the help of Chrissie Hirst at the Corra Foundation last year. The priorities for the coming year are very clear, including establishing the design team that will take forward the planning of the new facility on the Blantyre campus of the College of Medicine to house the clinical teaching centre for the BDS students.
The first six months of the project have been a steep learning curve on many fronts, but progress is being made. My sincere thanks are due to Deirdre Kelliher who is such a tremendous support with managing the budgetary issues and liaising with the Finance Offices at both the University of Glasgow and the College on Medicine in Blantyre. So many colleagues from the various stakeholders mentioned above are massively invested in the project and with such great enthusiastic collaboration from those with a wide range of skill-sets the next year is set to be a very exciting and, hopefully, successful one.
As grant-holders we had recently heard from Joanne Keating that Ian would be moving within the Scottish Government International Department (SGID) to oversee projects in Zambia and Rwanda, and that a new manager would be appointed to lead on projects in Malawi. Ian was the first direct contact that I had with SGID, when Mwapatsa and I met with him in September 2017 in Lilongwe. Those very first discussions over lunch were the beginning of the MalDent Project and the initial small pump-priming grant that we subsequently applied for and received greatly facilitated its launch.
Ian has been a great support and colleague to all of us involved in the project, both in Scotland and in Malawi as evidenced by these photographs:
From all of us working to improve oral healthcare in Malawi, many thanks and warmest good wishes to Ian in his new role!