MVO Medical & Health Projects
The main focus of this project area is to support the varied and very important work of the local Community Hospital and the local Nursery Schools in the Monkey Bay area of Malawi. During your time, you will have the opportunity to make a vital difference to those who need it most, caring for those in hospital, educating children in health workshops and also spending time with the young children who attend the local Nursery Schools (many of whom come from families which have lost relatives to AIDS).
The Medical and Health projects are ideally suited to medical students (preferably in the second year of studies or above), or volunteers with medical qualifications and experience. Volunteers without medical experience may also participate in this programme and will spend much of their time working with the young disadvantaged preschool Childern in Monkey Bay.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over half of the population living below the poverty line and an average daily income of less than 30 pence. The majority of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas and is provided with free health care through a governmental health care system that is organised into three levels. Health centres manage the most common and easily treated problems and offer maternity services. Cases that cannot be dealt with at this level are referred to district community hospitals, which provide secondary health care, including some types of basic surgery. Tertiary care is then offered at one of the 3 central hospitals, situated in the North, Central and Southern regions.
Note, you must be at least 17 Years of Age to participate in these projects.
Local Community Hospital and Clinic:
This project work is suited to volunteers with previous medical experience. There is also work for non-qualified volunteers, though this will usually involve shadowing local doctors, helping with administrative duties or data entry of patients.
We are currently working with Monkey Bay Hospital, which is funded by an Icelandic organization and thus you will be working with a mix of African and Icelandic nurses and doctors during your time here.
The Community Hospitals have two main roles. They provide primary health care to the local communities, whilst also receiving patients who are referred from the other four health faclities in the local Health Zone. Like the health centres, the community hospitals are staffed with nurse-midwives and medical assistants, but in addition clinical officers and a laboratory technician. The hospitals have a range of departments, such as an outpatient department, a female ward, male ward, children’s ward, maternity ward and a nursery for children from 1 day to 14 days old.
The total number of inpatient beds at the Monkey Bay hospital is around 60; eight of which are in the maternity ward. There is a laboratory that can carry out simple tests such as measuring hemoglobin, but it also has equipment to do transfusions and appropriate tests beforehand. Some volunteers, particularly those studying or considering a career in the medical profession, may also wish to join clinicians in consultations, where there is an enormous amount to be learnt about tropical and infectious diseases.
You will be involved in assisting the local nurses and doctors in their everyday care of the local Malawian people. Typical jobs may involve working with expecting mothers, newborn babies, administering injections, cleaning wounds and attending to dressings, small medical procedures and any other role which may be required of you by project staff. There is also a very important role available as a lab technician, carrying out all of the vital tests for the hospital. You will typically work from about 8am until 12.30pm each day at the hospitals and clinics.
Local Day Care Centres (Nursery Pre-Schools)
This project work is suited to any volunteers, regardless of your medical skills, but mostly recommended for those with little or no previous experience. The Day Care Centres currently caters for between 70-100 pre-school children, many of whom are affected by HIV and AIDS. You will be involved in a range of activities which include some pre-school teaching to prepare them for their education ahead, helping with feeding each day.
In general, your day is primarily focused upon making the children smile, in providing much needed love and support. You will be working typically from 8am until 12pm each day. In the afternoons however, you are free to develop some sports and games with the children.
Please Note: This centre is extremely under funded and therefore, any extra donations and financial support you can raise through fundraising would be extremely welcomed: For example, £20 will buy enough grain to feed the children for nearly a month!
HIV & AIDS Workshops and Home Based Care
This is a fantastic new initiative, which is sure to generate support among our Medical volunteers. The programme was set up by five local Malawian staff who have developed an interactive workshop for HIV and AIDS education and awareness together with an important Home-based care unit.
They currently visit all of the surrounding areas of Monkey Bay and smaller communities (approximately 100 in total), presenting drama workshops and presentations (in English and Chichewa) to children and families. During this time, they also carry out home-based visits, to offer support, medical supplies and aid to those families who are too ill or do not have the facilities to make the journey into town to seek the help and assistance they need.
The aim of this project is to increase the awareness of HIV and AIDS, thus reducing the stigma associated with such an illness, whilst also educating local communities in the prevention of this Virus. This is then partnered with a support network that is in great demand and is ever growing amongst the poorer communities in this area. They also cover other important and relevant diseases such as Bilharzia and Malaria.
These Clinics are available to all Medical volunteers and take place on a Friday, between 8am and 3 or 4pm. You will be taken out in a vehicle by the local mobile medical teams to visit and assist rural, poorer communities through the use of medical practice, support networks and aid relief. This will be extremely rewarding work and will allow you a rare opportunity to witness the everyday poverty and situations that local Malawian people face, whilst also helping to alleviate their hardships through your assistance and care.
You may take part in activities that range from providing important medical advice, immunisations, feeding, dressing wounds, helping expectant mothers or newborn babies, to data collection, the distribution of supplies and also participate in educational schemes that promote nutrition, AIDS awareness and health.
Please Note:It is important to remain flexible in your attitude and work ethic and be prepared to help in any of the areas that are developing and use your initiative to instigate new project areas. Thus we do ask that you arrive with an open-minded attitude and strong work ethic in order to utilise your time best in a way that leaves behind a lasting impression of your time in Africa.