Malawi Medical Life Center
After nine years of bringing medical teams to northern Malawi where we’ve seen cumulatively 3,300 patients suffering from malaria, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, intestinal worms, infected wounds and other diseases, we’ve spent the past year praying and planning for the launch of a permanent health clinic in partnership with Pastor Moffat Phiri (Victory Christian Temple) and World Compassion Fellowship (WCF).
Figure: Medical Triage
As part of this planning phase, I just returned from an exploratory trip with Dr. Pierre Arty, our medical team leader and WCF board member. Our goal was to gain a deeper understanding of the national, regional and local medical care situation as well as to meet with Pastor Moffat’s local medical and administrative team. We wanted to make sure that we would work and plan cooperatively.
In Mzuzu, we met with Medical Clinician (roughly equivalent to a nurse practitioner) Wisdom Mkandawire, one of Pastor Moffat’s church members, who has been spearheading the planning on the Malawi side. We have neared completion of our clinic building and have received our medical license to operate. We also interviewed dozens of candidates for some of the open positions that we will have in the clinic. Clinician Wisdom is very experienced and splits his time between the hospital and the health center. He is connected to the entire medical community here and will be our local medical director, God willing. We should be able to launch in a month with our initial local staff.
In the Mzuzu area, there is only one government hospital, a district health center, and about 20 clinics, servicing the million or so people that live in the Mzuzu area. We visited with the medical leaders at the government hospital, the District Health Office, several health centers of varying sizes, and wholesale and retail pharmacies, in order to get a full-scale picture and to better understand the gaps in the medical system. It quickly became clear that the need was very great and the supply of medical help was limited. Most of the population lives in destitute areas and can barely afford medical fees. Government-funded institutions have chronically run out of funding and medicine. The day we visited the district health center, more than a thousand patients were crammed into the small spaces and there were only three overworked clinicians working in extremely challenging conditions, to say the least. The only area that looked manageable was the HIV/AIDS wing, which is also the best funded. Most of the other major medical conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, malaria or other infectious diseases, are very underfunded. It is malaria season right now, and 90% of the patients that come into any clinic are testing positive for malaria – the number one killer here.
Figure: Malaria Testing
Overall, we came away convinced that we need to be God’s hands extended to the northern region. Many are suffering and dying from lack of medical care as well as the ongoing famine crisis. Our approach is holistic – we want to minister to the people spiritually, in cooperation with Pastor Moffat’s church, and we also want to minister to their physical needs. Continue to pray for us, as we hope to launch in the coming weeks. We need great wisdom.