Currently recruiting for 2013/14 undergraduate teaching in Blantyre and Zomba Mental Hospital. If you're a higher trainee or consultant psychiatrist and are interested and available to to work for between three and eight weeks in Malawi there may be an exciting opportunity for you in 2013/14. Please contact mail@SMMHEP.org.uk to find out more.
Malawi is a beautiful and peaceful country that is wracked by poverty and over-population. The average life expectancy of 38 years reflects some of the world's highest rates for infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition and infectious diseases. Despite the dire health statistics the country has one of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita (1 per 50,000). These factors and international epidemiological studies would suggest that the rates of mental illness in Malawi are at least as high as those in western and other developing countries. Mental Health Service provision is extremely sparse and there is only one state psychiatrist, Dr Felix Kauye.
The Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP) aims to provide sustainable support for psychiatric teaching and training for health care professionals in Malawi. The project has enjoyed close links with individuals and institutions in Malawi since 2006 and became a registered Scottish Charity in 2008.
Currently the project delivers the teaching of the psychiatry module to the medical students,supports post graduate psychiatry trainees(Masters in Medicine) and delivers training to psychiatry nurses and clinical officers based in Zomba Mental Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre. We also help organise the annual Mental Health Conference in Malawi that is attended by delegates from sub Saharan Africa, the UK, Europe and the USA.
The project has received support from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (London and Scotland), the Scottish Government, National Health Service Education Scotland (NES), the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) and local postgraduate Deaneries and tutors.
The project implements the standards of International Development Projects in having valid aims and measurable outcomes, and being mindful of cultural issues, cost effectiveness and sustainability.
The project provides support to Dr Felix Kauye in delivering the undergraduate medical student teaching course at the College of Medicine (CoM) in Blantyre. Volunteer psychiatrists travel to Malawi to teach theoretical and clinical skills in psychiatry to medical students and post graduate psychiatry trainees. This is done in one two week block to teach Intellectual Disability and CAMHS and four six week blocks to teach the rest of the curriculum. The project has developed a new undergraduate curriculum, utilising a wide variety of teaching materials and methods, and an examination process. Evaluation of the teaching suggests that it meets the standard of a Scottish university. Approvals from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), NHS Education Scotland, local trusts and postgraduate deaneries allow higher trainees in psychiatry to receive approval towards training for their volunteer experience. With the support of the RCPsych and Oxford University Press the project has supplied text books to CoM and ZMH.
In response to requests from staff at ZMH SMMHEP also provides up to date equipment and training for electro-convulsive treatment (ECT). Two nurses from Malawi came over to Scotland in April 2012 and were trained in the Management of Violence and Aggression. They in turn, are rolling out a training programme for the same for their colleagues in Malawi.
SMMHEP is fully committed to "training the trainers". To this end, we are supporting the three post graduate psychiatry trainees and are supervising them to take over the undergraduate teaching. We hope, in time, there will be more post graduate students and they can be taught by Malawian psychiatrists once they gain sufficient experience in the field.
In the future, we are hoping to set up a comprehensive e-learning database and a community training programme to train health workers and community nurses to recognise common mental disorders and substance use disorders.
The organisational activities of SMMHEP occur in both Malawi and Scotland:
Dr Felix Kauye, Malawi's Chief Government Psychiatrist, has closely guided SMMHEPs contribution in supporting Malawi's considerable mental health needs. SMMHEP's principal role is to:
Dr Kauye guides the projects interface with contributions from Dutch and Norwegian projects, and Mental Health nursing training support from the Harrogate-Zomba Link and Voluntary Service Oversees.
Dr Robert Stewart was based in Malawi from 2008 to 2012 where he was senior lecturer and Head of Department of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine. He developed the curriculum for the undergraduate psychiatry teaching, set up the post graduate training programme, initiated the establishment of MEHUCA (Malawi Mental Health Users and Carers Association), organised the first annual Mental Health Conference in Malawi and is editing the Malawi Mental Health Handbook. His post has been taken over by Dr Jen Ahrens. Dr Selena Gleadow Ware is based in Zomba Mental Hospital for the next two years and is running a project to increase the awareness of maternal mental health problems in midwives and community health workers.
SMMHEP has eight trustees who are members of a 20- member management committee which includes a treasurer and an administrator. All members are volunteers working for charity and are present or recently retired employees of the NHS and or academic institutions across Scotland. We have four regional coordinators, who help recruit volunteers to go to Malawi.
SMMMHEP takes pride is running the project with the minimum of administration costs and manages its finances according to the rigorous standards of the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR). The project is immensely grateful for the generosity of its supporters and to its volunteers who contribute not only their enthusiasm, skills and time, but also financially to their travel and subsistence costs.
The principal sources of funding for the project are:
SMMHEP is a small and focussed project that recognises the value of supporting mental health staff within Malawi through teaching, training and provision of safe and effective clinical equipment. The need in Malawi is ongoing and great; more skilled mental health staff are needed. Please help SMMHEP to make a sustainable contribution to improving the lives of people with serious mental health problems in Malawi.
SMMHEP is grateful for all single and monthly direct debit donations.
Cheques made payable to 'SMMHEP.' The project can make more money using the government Gift Aid scheme. Link to Gift Aid form.
Please send cheques to;
Mrs Margaret Granger
Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh
Royal Edinburgh Hospital
The project would be delighted to hear from psychiatrists based in Scotland who would be interested in volunteering for the project. If you would like to be added to our recruitment list for future years please let us know. Please contact:
Post: c/o Mrs Margaret Granger
Division of Psychiatry, University of Edinburgh
Royal Edinburgh Hospital