US medical students offer help to rural Malawians

Residents surrounding Chuluchosema Clinic in the area of traditional authority Chikowi in eastern city of Zomba have for a moment stopped travelling 10 kilometres to the nearest hospital to get medical help, following arrival of a team of medical students from Mercer University in the United States who are providing medical help to patients at the clinic.

Since its inception in 2010 the health facility has never had a medical doctor save for health surveillance assistants who assist the under five children. But now this has changed.

The  medical team which comprises 10 medical students and three faculty members are serving the patients of all age group at the clinic which is owned by the Churches for Central African Presbyterian.

Under the Mercer on Mission – A Serving Learning project by Mercer University in Georgia, the team is serving the patients with medical supplies they have brought with them from the United States.

Service provinding....... Medical studets examining patents
Service provinding……. Medical studets examining patents

Director of Aids Education and Researcher at the university Dr Mike Smith one of the professors with the team, says besides providing medical help, the students themselves are learning a lot more in terms of International Medicine and Environmental Health and Toxicology which was a requirement for the students to participate in such program.

“While we are seeing patients, the students are also learning something from the experience that will help them to articulate their learning process once they return to America,” he says.

Services which the students are providing under the supervision of the medical doctors including Richard Coffman and HIV and AIDs medicine specialist who have accompanied them include examining patients with different ailments and prescribing medication.

One of the medical students Tyrina  Dickson says that apart from the medical knowledge gained so far  from the trip she is impressed with hospitality which the residents have shown towards the team –  a view shared by almost all the team members who talked to Nyasa Times.

“I have been in Johannesburg, and their welcome was just as ordinary. In the United States we are not too friendly, and I see why the people gave us the cold shoulder when were leaving the United States but there is no hard feelings here, definitely we feel welcome here. And I guess this comes from their culture and how they are raised,” she says.

A founder of the clinic the Very Reverend Dr Cyrus Ncozana who is a pastor at Chuluchosema applauds the service which the team is providing at the clinic

“This is a commendable development. We have seen so many patients who have come and during the period which they have been here. So many village people who had not seen by a medical doctor will be seen.  And also the cooperation of our health surveillance assistants is also augmented, which is indeed a good development.”

But Ncozana says the clinic is however making own effort towards having a medical doctor there.

“We are indeed currently highly dependent on our DHO (District Health Officer) sending us health surveillance assistants but we have we have built two medical staff houses and we are hoping that our synod is going to send us [medical] staff who will be permanent here because the nearest hospital is about 14 kilometers from here,” he says.

The team, led by a Malawian native, Dr Zipangani Vokhiwa an Associate Professor of Science the University comprise, Tshika Elisabeth-Solange Mbayabo –  Global Health/Pre-Health,  Linda Thu Nguyen – 4th Year Medical Student, Tamara Patrice Onley – Psychiatry, Nancey Bre’anna Price – Women’s Studies Pre-Medical School,  Rebecca Ann Clanton – Biology Pre-Physician Assistant, Tyrina Dickson – Master in Public Health,  Khadijah Aneesah Aleem – Masters in Public Health,  Leontyne CressidaThompson – Master in Public Health,  DeShonda Hillsman – Human Services, and  Karmjeet Kaur – Biology Pre-Medical School.

The team which arrived in the country towards the end of July, is expected to return to the USA on August 15.

Medical doctor Richard, attending to the a female pateient through an interpreter
Medical doctor Richard, attending to the a female pateient through an interpreter
The team and other Malawians pose for Nyasa Times
The team and other Malawians pose for Nyasa Times
Patients and guardians waiting for medical help
Patients and guardians waiting for medical help

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