UK Emergency Medical Team concludes mission to Malawi

A team of world class experts from the United Kingdom (UK) Emergency Medical Team (EMT) is leaving Malawi this Thursday after conducting a successful 10-week tour of the country.

During its stay in Malawi, the team supported the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 response in the management of critically ill Covid-19 patients, community perceptions around COVID-19 and support to community engagement on national COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

The EMT comprises world-class experts and delivers frontline medical care, advice and support to governments, WHO and local health workers to save lives and alleviate suffering, during disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies.

UK Emergency Medical Team

According to a press release from the British High Commission in Lilongwe, during the response, the UK EMT members worked hand in hand with Malawian medical personnel in the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Theatre and Intensive Care teams at Kamuzu Central Hospital and in other district hospitals, and supported the Ministry of Health and WHO trainings across the country, including in Salima, Mangochi and Balaka, Chitipa, Rumphi, Ntchisi and Blantyre districts.

They provided training and on the job supervision in the clinical management of patients at all levels of COVID-19, including those who were critically ill. They have also supported the setup of a two-bed high dependency unit (HDU), specifically for serious and critically ill pregnant women, which has already served as a life-saving resource.

UK EMT members also worked with their Malawian counterparts in respiratory care and the sustainable use of oxygen in emergency departments; integrating COVID-19 infection prevention and control and case management procedures into day-to-day practices in hospitals.

They also worked with communities across the Lilongwe area to address perceptions of the virus and vaccine hesitancy to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

In his remarks, the British High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer said, “It is crucial we tackle this disease on a global level. The UK will continue reaching out to help other countries which are suffering from new waves of the pandemic as was the case with the UK EMT deployment here, helping Malawi to prepare for the next wave of COVID-19 infection, as well as to strengthen Malawi’s health system to better respond to other diseases and injuries.”

UK EMT Team Lead Kenneth Ayino said when the team arrived in Malawi, the Covid-19 cases were below five as compared to current numbers of between 300-500 new cases per day, and increasing.

Ayino said the timing gave the members ample time to prepare, train, learn, support and mentor the Ministry of Health.

“More changes have been observed with the new strain rapidly spreading within Malawi. We are confident that the knowledge transfer and sharing up to the district level will enable the Ministry of Health and partners to effectively handle the new wave. We remain available for any needed support to the partners and Ministry of Health,” he said.

Since the start of the Covid crisis, the UK EMT, has been supporting global efforts to respond to the pandemic through the deployment of specialist staff to work alongside Ministries of Health, the WHO–EMT Secretariat, WHO country offices, as well as other UN agencies and international NGOs.

EMT members have deployed to Ghana, Cambodia, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, South Africa, Chad, Lebanon and lately in Armenia, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana.

The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to Covid-19, kickstarting the COVAX facility in 2020, and investing £90 million to support the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. In addition to supporting the immediate humanitarian response in Malawi with £9.67m, and co-funding the COVAX vaccines that Malawi has received, the UK has also provided 119,040 vaccines bilaterally, so far.

British charity UK-Med provides the doctors, nurses, operational and logistical expertise to the UK Emergency Medical Team, according to the statement.

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