During the week commencing Monday 15th July, the Principal of the University of Malawi College of Medicine, Dr Mwapatsa Mipando, visited Glasgow with a team of his colleagues from the University of Malawi College of Medicine. The visit, funded through Erasmus, had been organised by Paul Garside and Alex Mackay at the University of Glasgow Institute of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation and was linked with the Scottish Government funded Blantyre to Blantyre Project. As always, Alex and Paul generously provided time in the itinerary to allow interaction and a working meeting for Mwapatsa with those of us involved in the MalDent Project.
On the Wednesday afternoon, the schedule included a Scottish cultural trip to the Auchentoshan Distillery (https://www.auchentoshan.com) followed by dinner at the ‘Lodge on the Loch’ at Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond. I was invited to join the delegation and it was a great opportunity to meet some new friends from the College of Medicine who I hadn’t spent time with previously. In addition to the Principal, the visiting team comprised:
- Mrs Esther Masi, Marketing and Communication Officer
- Mr George Namandwa, Resource Mobilisation and Investment Director
- Mr Dikani Salema, Laboratory Manager for the Blantyre to Blantyre Project
- Mr Youngson Ghambi, Commercial Manager
- Dr Abena Amoah, Science Programmes Officer, Malawi Epidemiology & Intervention Research Unit (MEIRU)
Despite heavy rain (part of the Scottish cultural offering!) it was a very enjoyable event -many thanks to Paul and Alex for having invited me along.
Mwapatsa spent the Friday morning at Glasgow Dental School with Niall Rogerson and I, during which time we covered a large volume of business.
At 11.30am we were joined by Professor Chris Platt, who is Professor of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art. Chris has been working with Professor Phil Cotton at the University of Rwanda on aspects of design of the University estate and I had met both of them briefly a few weeks previously, during a short visit by Phil to Glasgow. Subsequently, Niall and I had enjoyed a follow-up meeting with Chris to discuss the design of the new building that is planned for the Blantyre campus and which will house the clinical dental teaching facilities. The insight and professional expertise around design methods that Chris brought to the table was fantastic and I was delighted that he was able to meet with Mwapatsa in Glasgow.
In brief, Chris has agreed to facilitate a stakeholder workshop in Blantyre during early September, to generate a detailed brief that will encompass all aspects of the building requirements from a broad spread of College staff who will use it, not just those involved in the BDS programme. The delegates will also include those with local expertise and knowledge of the site from a technical and construction perspective. The aim is to have an outline plan and estimated costing by the end of November 2019. This is a very exciting development, bringing together expertise from both Scotland and Malawi, which will lay a strong foundation for the next phase of the design and construction project.
At the end of the morning we were joined by Dr Petrina Sweeney, who has agreed to participate in the induction week for the first intake of BDS students, which will be held at the Blantyre campus from 19th – 23rd August 2019. This will be an important and exciting milestone event, with a group of prospective young dentists who will be the first to benefit from the new facility that is now in its fledgling design phase.