Malawi-Liverpool Welcome Trust explores art in health research

Malawi-Liverpool-Welcome Trust (MLW) will embark on a new project which seeks to  bringing artists and scientists together  into dialogue about their research work where the communities will also been involved.

Speaking to journalists  on Thursday, at Malawi-Liverpool Welcome Trust offices in Blantyre, MWL Science Communication Officer Tamara Chipasula said that the project which is called Art in Global Health  will provide a new perspective on vital work, often on the front line of infectious disease prevention, and produce works that explore and communicate in various forms, from fine art to puppetry.

The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme carries out health research on diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria, and trains clinical and laboratory scientists from Malawi and abroad.

Chipasula said that  the project  which is been funded by Wellcome Trust in United Kingdom  will be spearheaded by Elson Kambalu, a visual artist will combine different art work which will highlight different aspects of research, particularly picking on the following: Blood, consent, Men’s involvement in health issues, language barriers in research, altitudes towards medical research, distance and traditional medicine.

Tamara briefing members of the press about the Kafukufuku Arts Festival.-Photo by Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times

“Arts in global health project is a novel experience. Truly one of a kind because its rare to have scientist and artists working together to engage people about health or medical research,” said Chipasula.

“We as MLW look to such projects in future as Art promises to not only be entertaining but also educative in the process. We have indeed learnt in the past that people learn best wwhen they can see, touch and hear the messages and so Art will allow us to do this,” she added.

Chipasula said that three events will take place in Chinkhwawa, Blantyre and Lilongwe where different methods such as drama, photography, poetry, music and exhibitions will be used to convey message.

For instance, she mentioned artists like Lucius Banda, Katelela Ching’oma, Joseph Nkasa, Lulu, Agorosso that they will entrain fans during the Kafukufuku Arts Festival on the 29th September , 2012 in Chinkhwawa.

Kambalu, who is spearheading the project said that they have set up six artist residences in six Trust –funded research centres as a way of teasing out some of the more personal, culture and political dimension of health research.

Kambalu said that the project is a born out of Wellcome Collection desire to engage the curious public globally with the health research that the trust funds-in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK.

“I am amongst a group of six artists/ art groups, each attached to their respective research centre’s, with an aim of being exposed to research processes and different medical practices. The whole idea is for us to get a wide brief that would eventually leads us to respond by producing art on specific issues that we have identified,” he said.

Kambalu to spearhead the project.-Photo by Jeromy Kadewere/Nyasa Times

According to MLW, the Kafukufuku Arts Festival will start on September, 29th, 2012 in Chinkhwawa before an exhibition show in Blantyre on October, 25th, 2012 and Lilongwe in early November.

MWL is a clinical Research programme that was established  in July 1995 and affiliated to the Malawi College of Medicine. Its mission is to conduct clinical research on diseases of local omportance such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS.

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