MalDent at the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Conference 2019

Thursday 31st October and Friday 1st November were busy days on account of the invitation to Dr Mwapatsa Mipando (Principal of the University of Malawi College of Medicine) from Scottish Government International Development to attend and address the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Conference 2019. This was a fantastic opportunity for the University of Glasgow Maldent Project and Blantyre-Blantyre Project to have time for face to face discussions with Mwapatsa and for both projects to feature in the Global Citizenship Conference.

On the Thursday morning, Profs Paul Garside and Andy Waters from the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology, Mwapatsa and I took an early train to Edinburgh. We walked from Waverley Station to The Scottish Parliament, where Mwapatsa was to meet at 10am with the Minister for International Development, Mr Ben Macpherson MSP.

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Prof Andy Waters, Dr Mipando and I arriving at the Scottish Parliament Building. Photo courtesy of Prof Paul Garside, our fourth team member!

In addition to Mwapatsa, the Scottish Government had also invited Dr Lalick Banda, Medical Director of St Francis Hospital, Zambia to discuss the long-term partnership between his hospital and NHS Borders, and Dr Joseph Mulenga, to discuss the newly emerging partnership between the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Zambian National Blood Transfusion Service in Lusaka.

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Dr Joseph Mulenga, Mr Ben Macpherson MSP, Dr Mwapatsa Mipando, Dr Lalick Banda and Mr Fred Ntongwe with the Minister in his office

Mwapatsa was able to update the Minister on progress with both the Blantyre-Blantyre and MalDent Projects, ahead of the Conference the following day.

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Mr Ben Macpherson MSP and Dr Mwapatsa Mipando

After the meeting with the Minister had concluded, we set off on the 15 minute walk up to Saint Andrew’s House.

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Fred Ntongwe, myself, Paul Garside, Mwpatsa Mipando, Andy Waters, Nicola Cogan and Ian Nicol – about to head up the hill to St Andrew’s House

Joanna Keating, Head of the International Development Team at Scottish Government, led a very interesting discussion among all the parties present from Malawi, Zambia, NHS Borders and the University of Glasgow, with her own team in attendance. It was a pleasure to meet Tasha Boardman who has been appointed as the new Malawi Manager on the Scottish Government International Development Team.

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A panorama of the group meeting in Saint Andrew’s House

After the discussion there was time for a group photograph outside St Andrew’s House, before we headed back to Waverley Station to catch the Glasgow train.

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Meetings over – ready to head back to Glasgow

Once back in Glasgow, Mwapatsa, Paul and Andy headed up to the main University of Glasgow campus, for an afternoon of meetings devoted to the Blantyre-Blantyre Project. I walked back to my office at the Dental School to finalise and submit our Mid-Year Report on the MalDent Project to Nicola Cogan at Scottish Government, which was due by close of play that day.

At 5.45pm Mwapatsa arrived at the Dental School for an evening meeting with Chris Platt, Professor of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, and his two students, Breffni O’Brien and Ciara Durkin, for a follow-up with them on the design workshop that they had led in Blantyre in September. Niall Rogerson and Petrina Sweeney were both able to join us for the discussions. We made excellent progress and are now close to finalising the schedule of accommodation for the new building on the College of Medicine Blantyre campus which, in turn, will inform an estimate of the capital costs.

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A good evening’s work completed – ready to head to dinner!

The following day, Niall Rogerson joined Mwapatsa, Andy Waters, Paul Garside and I on the 8am train from Glasgow to Edinburgh. We alighted at Edinburgh Haymarket and shared a taxi to Murrayfield Stadium, the home of Scottish rugby. The NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Conference 2019 was held in the President’s Suite. In total, 280 delegates had registered for the meeting and it was very busy.

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The event was opened by Professor Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow. This was very fitting in view of the pioneering work led on behalf of the RCPSG by Stuart Ferguson and Mike McKirdy, who had produced the original report on Global Citizenship in the Scottish Health Service that was accepted by Scottish Government and and has helped to stimulate activity in this area (https://rcpsg.ac.uk/documents/publications/global-citizenship-report/204-global-citizenship-in-the-scottish-health-service/file).

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Prof Jackie Taylor, President of the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow, opening the Global Citizenship Conference

Two keynote speakers followed Professor Taylor. The first of these was Mr Ben Macpherson MSP, Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development. His passion, enthusiasm and support for the global citizenship programme provides great encouragement for all who are involved. He commented that: “As we continue to develop the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme and as we build and maintain health partnerships, we need to continue to ensure they are designed to be sustainable, effective, impactful”. These themes were picked up by many other speakers during the day.

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Mr Ben Macpherson MSP delivering his keynote lecture

The second keynote speaker was Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer. In a very touching and personal presentation, Dr Calderwood related an experience of hers as a medical student during an elective project in sub-saharan Africa, which has greatly influenced her choice of medical specialty and her acute awareness of the problem of health inequalities, both at home and globally. Her charge to the delegates was:  “Let’s make Scotland the leading country for Global Citizenship in the world”.

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Dr Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, at the lectern

The morning session continued with a wide variety of presentations describing progress in NHS Scotland’s Global Citizenship programme. Of particular interest for the MalDent Project was a presentation by Jean Ngoie entitled ‘Ethical and Sustainable Kit and Equipment Donation’. Equipment supply, maintenance and repair are inevitable components of a dental programme and it was encouraging that many of the recommendations made by Jean are being followed in our work with Dentaid to re-equip the Dental Department at Kamuzu Central Hospital.

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Jean Ngoie discussing the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of equipment donation

After a series of interesting presentations on Global Citizenship developments in NHS Boards, we entered a section entitled ‘Sharing Challenges and Learning from Global Health Partnerships’. There were three presentations delivered jointly by Scottish and international partners:

  • NHS Borders Logie Legacy – Brian Magowan and Dr Lalick Banda, Medical Superintendent at St Francis Hospital, Zambia
  • Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and Zambian National Blood Transfusion Service – Susan Cottrell and Dr Joseph Mulenga
  • Malawi Dental School – Jeremy Bagg and Dr Mwapatsa Mipando

This was an excellent opportunity to share experiences and to learn lessons from one another.

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Dr Mwapatsa Mipando speaking about the MalDent Project partnership

After lunch, which presented excellent opportunities for networking, there was a series of workshops. We attended and participated in the Malawi and Zambia Focus Workshop, led by Nicola Cogan and Ian Nicol.

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Nicola Cogan introducing the Malawi component of the ‘Malawi / Zambia’ workshop

Paul Garside and I had been asked to deliver brief presentations on learning points from the Blantyre-Blantyre and MalDent Projects in Malawi and Susan Cottrell to speak about the recently developing joint work between the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and the Zambian National Blood Transfusion Service. There was a lively discussion, with great input from our international partners.

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Prof Paul Garside describes the Blantyre-Blantyre Project and lessons learned 

After a final coffee break, we enjoyed a very insightful presentation by Ben Simms, from the Tropical Health & Education Trust (THET). He focused on the need for activities in developing countries to be innovative, strategic, ethical and responsible. He was very complimentary about Scotland’s rapid progress in developing its global citizenship agenda. His presentation closed with observations on the current climate emergency and the need to ensure that all flights that were taken were essential and maximum use was made of the time spent in the partner country.

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Ben Simms from THET presenting on ‘Innovation in Partnerships’

The conference finished with a presentation by Emily Broadis, the Chair of the Lead Champions Network, entitled ‘Our carbon footprint’, picking up the climate change story where Ben Simms had left off. Mike McKirdy then summarised the day’s activities before John Brown, Chair of the NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme Board, announced the poster winner and gave a vote of thanks to those involved in the organisation of the day.

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Mr Mike McKirdy summarising the content and learning after an excellent conference

This had been a tremendous event. It was inspiring and thought provoking to hear the perspectives of so many colleagues engaged in global citizenship activities. The high level political support and leadership shown in Scotland for this work is second to none and it is a real privilege to be able to participate .

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