28 October 2012

September 2012 visit – brief report

Our team (which included and ophthalmologist, an optometrist and an orthoptist) returned from Malawi at the beginning of October, greeted by chilly wet weather and our day jobs. It was a successful trip, and we are grateful for safe journeys, health – and all the kind people who helped us along the way. Here's a brief report on what we did.

Ekwendeni School for the Blind. Did eye tests for recently-admitted children to find out what level of sight they had, and also to assess whether any of the them needed further treatment, including specialist treatment or operations.

Ekwendeni Mission Hospital Eye Clinic. This clinic had not been operational for a couple of years owing to lack of qualified staff. However, in consultation with the hospital management, we were able to create a scheme to dispense simple reading glasses. Two available and suitable members of the hospital staff were transferred and we set about training them immediately. By the time we left, they were ready to start providing reading glasses to people in their catchment area. We shall be monitoring progress.

David Gordon Memorial Hospital, Livingstonia. We worked with local staff at the eye clinic which was established here just over a year ago, and we visited some of the remote clinics along the lake shore (accessible only by boat!), as well as some further inland. Many patients were seen. This was also an important opportunity for the team to review patient management and record-keeping in the new clinic.

Embangweni Mission Hospital We also visited this hospital in a remote rural location, in the west of the country, to look at the feasibility of establishing eye care there. We discovered that a limited service had been provided by one individual until he retired some months ago. We now await the further guidance from the hospital's management on how they wish to proceed, as they asses possibilities.

As mentioned previously, recent political and economic difficulties have made life in Malawi yet more precarious. However, changes in national leadership in the past year have led to growing confidence that Malawians can again hope for and work for a better future. It's great to be around to assist even in a small way, so thank you for your ongoing support and prayers!