November 2022 was a very busy month for face-to-face interactions between University of Glasgow staff and their partners at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences. Following the restrictions that had prevented such activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was wonderful to be able once again to enjoy the fellowship and informal academic interactions that are so much more difficult through video-conferencing. The subsequent two posts will reflect some activities of the MalDent Project during the week beginning 14th November. However, this separate introductory post provides an important preface.
In early November, the University of Glasgow Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, visited Malawi, accompanied by Miss Rachel Sandison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – External Engagement & Vice Principal – External Relations. During the busy itinerary at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Sir Anton delivered a public lecture entitled: The role of universities as drivers of sustainable development within communities and on a global stage. The support of the senior leaders of both the University of Glasgow (UofG) and Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) for development of the strong academic partnership that has developed between the two organisations reflects, in a very tangible way, the subject matter of the public lecture.
That relationship between the two universities was further strengthened by the signing of a formal MOU during the visit:
One of the main events during the visit was the official opening of the Blantyre-Blantyre Laboratory, the culmination of a joint UofG / KUHeS infrastructure project, which will deliver world-class biomedical laboratory facilities at KUHeS. This will support, in a sustainable way, future scientific collaborations with the University of Glasgow and other academic and industrial partners. The Blantyre-Blantyre project began just before the MalDent Project commenced, and the team has been extremely supportive to us, often helping us to problem-solve as we hit challenges that the Blantyre-Blantyre Project had already encountered and resolved! It is wonderful to see all their hard work coming to fruition and the joint official opening of the facility being shared by the Vice-Chancellors of both universities:
Whilst at KUHeS, there were also opportunities for Sir Anton to hear and see at first hand some of the ongoing work of the MalDent Project. He was able to meet with Dr Peter Chimimba, our Malawi Project Lead and Dr James Mchenga, Academic Head of the BDS degree programme:
There was opportunity for discussion of UofG / KUHeS collaborations …
… and time was included for a visit to the Dental Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Blantyre ….
… where Peter and James were able to provide information on our MalDent Project activities and progress:
For those of us engaged in collaborative projects between the UofG and KUHeS, this visit was a very powerful symbol of the support that exists for our work at the highest levels of each organisation. That support is of immense value as we go about our day-to-day partnership working.
This post would not be complete without some important acknowledgements. On behalf of the MalDent Project team, I would like to congratulate all colleagues involved in the Blantyre-Blantyre Project on the successful completion and opening of the laboratory. We have seen the immense efforts you have put into this complex project and have been the beneficiaries of much of your hard-won learning along the way! Particular thanks are due to Alex Mackay, who has not only provided us with many words of wisdom and encouragement, but also supplied me with some of the photographs for this post.
Finally, there are two common threads to the Blantyre-Blantyre project and the MalDent Project. The first is Dr Mwapatsa Mipando, a true visionary whose drive, determination and strategic thinking have been central to both projects.
Secondly, we are immensely grateful for the generous funding from the Scottish Government, which has transformed both projects from dreams to reality. Moving forward we will work hard to ensure that the legacy of the financial support is sustainable and in keeping with the Scottish Government’s International Development Principles.