On Tuesday 25th February, Dr Mwapatsa Mipando arrived back in Glasgow to attend the Capacity Strengthening in Africa Symposium that was being hosted by the University of Glasgow on Friday 28th February. His early arrival allowed time for him to work with Prof Simon Guild on their Scottish Government funded project on academic governance which will support the establishment of the new Kamuzu University of Health Sciences.
On the first day of his visit, Dr Mipando was able to take a trip through to Edinburgh to meet with the newly appointed Minister for Europe and International Development, Ms Jenny Gilruth MSP.
On the Thursday, we were able to fit in a brief meeting between Dr Mipando and Ms Inas Ghonsol. Inas, who is from Libya, has recently completed her MSc in Oral Sciences at Glasgow Dental School and is now registered for a PhD. Her project will be directly linked to the MalDent Project and will examine aspects of professional governance, scope of practice and continuing professional education, as Malawi begins the task of building its own dental teams with dentists trained in country for the first time.
The symposium was opened on Friday 28th February by the Principal of the University of Glasgow, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli:
Shortly before the symposium, the Principal of the University of Glasgow and Professor Ernest Aryeetey, the Secretary General of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), had signed an MOU between the two organisations.
The first presentation was from Professor Adam Habib, who is the Vice-Chair of ARUA. This was a very thought-provoking lecture, addressing not only the importance of capacity strengthening in Africa but also the challenges and the need to re-think some of the ways in which we are working
The morning progressed with a series of excellent presentations, including input from Dr Mipando on developments at the University of Malawi College of Medicine.
In particular, he focused on the Blantyre-Blantyre Project and the progress that is being made in establishing a clinical laboratory facility on the College of Medicine campus in Blantyre, Malawi, for which the Scottish Government is a major donor:
In the afternoon there was a session of small group round-table discussions.
I joined the table that was chaired by Prof Ernest Aryeetey and Mr Ian Nicol, to consider the question: ‘How can governments and funders play a role in capacity strengthening and what are their responsibilities?’. We enjoyed a lively discussion and it was heartening that there was significant interest in the impact of the Scottish Government funding for the MalDent Project to improve oral health in Malawi.
Pamela Armstrong, University of Glasgow International Recruitment Manager for Africa, acted as rapporteur for our group:
After the meeting closed, there was a reception in the Hunterian Museum. It had been an excellent day and congratulations should go to Prof Paul Garside and Ms Rachel Sandison for organising the event.
Later that evening, I was able to introduce Dr Mipando to Ms Fatima Dantata. Fatima is from Nigeria and currently completing her MSc in Endodontics at Glasgow Dental School. She is keen to enrol for a PhD that will examine aspects of oral health policy in Malawi, including workforce modelling, clinical facilities and infrastructure.
This had been another very valuable visit to Glasgow for Dr Mipando. Progress was made on all three of the Scottish Government-funded projects at the University of Malawi College of Medicine and the conference had been a great success. As always, we look forward to his next visit.