Implementing Innovative Approaches to Healthcare in a Lower-Middle Income Country: Perspectives from Malawi

Emma Larsson, Mala Mawkin, Simon D Taylor-Robinson, Peter Harrington, Hastings Gondwe, Chris Watson, Joseph Gallagher, Mark Ledwidge, Griphin Baxter Chirambo, John O'Donoghue

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Abstract

Introduction: Safe, reliable, and effective healthcare systems are essential for all nations to ensure the health and wellbeing of their citizens. However, this is not always achievable with clinical therapies constantly evolving, resulting in a domino effect of structural, policy and training changes. For low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), implementing change is restricted. It is essential that innovative and realistic solutions are developed, so that effective change can be realised in LMICs.

Materials and Methods: In this report of a global health conference held in July 2019, six perspectives are presented which aim to generate long-term positive change in Malaŵi. Perspective 1: Pneumonia - the BIOTOPE study (BIOmarkers TO diagnose PnEumonia) sought to determine the aetiology of pneumonia in children presenting in primary care. It assessed blood-based markers of bacterial infection as part of a rapid diagnostic approach to better utilise existing resources in Malaŵi. Perspective 2: Cardiovascular - the CARDIA project (CARdiac Dysfunction in Africa) was established to assess clinical and biochemical phenotypes of diabetic patients in Malaŵi. Perspective 3: Asthma - an observational study was conducted to implement a health system strengthening initiative for asthma. The use of locally adapted formularies and protocols with ongoing online mentoring through expert partnerships provided an opportunity to sustainably build capacity. Perspective 4: Sustainable Partnerships - establishing the Malaŵi electronic Health (eHealth) Research Centre, an international hub to develop education, research and innovation for long-term collaboration. Perspective 5: Part-Time PhD Studies - undertaking a part-time PhD within a LMIC provides logistic challenges, but also a number of opportunities for observational research. Perspective 6: Medical electives - an undergraduate elective allows real exposure to global health and facilitates life-long collaborations at an early stage in a medical career.

Conclusion: Malaŵi is an under-doctored and resource-poor country. North-South partnerships in Malaŵi should be strengthened with particular emphasis on healthcare innovations, such as eHealth, which allow healthcare problems to be highlighted early while preventative measures are still possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1723-1730
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of General Medicine
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

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