01/01/2016

MEDIC TO MEDIC
Healthcare Workers For All
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
M2M provides disadvantaged trainees with necessary equipment and guaranteed tuition fees. In addition, medical graduates receive continued support during their internship, a year after medical school qualification, in order to alleviate financial pressure. The main aim is to reduce emigration and the high drop out rate from training, which has resulted in these poor countries having huge shortages of professionals. There is little incentive for qualified professionals to return to their countries once they have left because of limited research opportunity and training prospects. In Malawi, there is only one doctor for 50,000 people, a staggeringly large ratio compared to in the UK.
 
To be eligible to be supported by M2M, prospective students are interviewed and reviewed throughout. Efforts are made to make M2M’s support accessible for the majority. Students in all fields show tremendous enthusiasm, commitment and energy for their training. There is much promise for the health workers to make significant and very positive contributions to their country over the course of the years. This has an incredibly powerful potential impact on tackling issues concerning health and wellbeing in these countries. Population health is intrinsically linked with socio- economic status, therefore most countries are beginning to recognise the importance of prioritising education within the healthcare community. M2M is always receiving new requests from a range of universities in Africa to assist students. One of the latest programmes is working with trainee nurses at Mzuzu University in Malawi. Of course, expansion is desirable, however being realistic is also important. As ever, in this field of medicine and global health, there is infinite demand for finite resources. 
 
Supporters of M2M make a difference by making regular donations, which are linked to individual students. Donors are regularly updated about their sponsored student’s progression. As with most small charities, spreading awareness is a very important aspect of M2M’s work. It is especially important that us as medics should be aware of health systems and structures abroad. 
 
Just like in the UK, investment within countries and from outside nations is very much determined by political and economic status. Taking Malawi as an example, the cash gate scandal a couple of years ago triggered much mistrust in the government and caused many international donors to pull out of Malawi.  The government of Malawi is currently faced with the task of rationing internal expenditure. As a result, the latest graduates of medicine are being delayed in finding an internship position and therefore employment. This of course means that the government reduces their outgoings to pay salaries. The major knock on effect is that there are not enough doctors to look after all the patients on the wards and consequently current interns are experiencing an enormous pressure and stress burden. In addition, it is also a waste of skills, because qualified doctors and physiotherapists are prepared for the work place but there is a stalemate situation. These graduates are not able to work in a private clinic because they are required by law to complete their internship programme before they can be eligible for registration with the Malawi Medical Council. Imagine, reaching full qualification level and then having your career virtually frozen? 
 
In order to keep up skills some graduates have started volunteering at the hospitals, however there is no payment for this. On a recent visit, M2M representatives heard that the Malawi government would employ people for their internships, but that they would give them allowances rather than salaries. The impact on M2M current graduates will be that the intern allowances are even more vital. M2M aims to provide help and support during this time, for example by arranging to rent a house in one of the cities that could be used free of charge.  The hope is that predominantly short-term measures will need to be planned for, while trust in the Malawi government is restored and international donations improve. Kate Mandeville, the founder of M2M, is in discussion with the Ministry of Health. Having focused her PhD on incentives for health workers to stay in Malawi, Kate aims to raise concerns to the government on behalf of M2M.
It is our responsibility to care about global health and strive towards making a difference within the world of medicine.
 
On January 22nd, there will be an art exhibition evening in aid of Medic to Medic at UCL. The event will involve a silent auction of African- inspired artwork, entertainment and guest speakers. It is a valuable opportunity to support the work of M2M and global health initiatives more widely. It is an occasion to find out more about international and charitable opportunities throughout your career.
 
Elle Wilson, MBBS Year 2, Project Leader 2015
 
Check out:
https://www.medictomedic.org.uk/
and https://www.facebook.com/MedictoMedic/?fref=ts 
Medic to Medic (M2M) at UCL is a branch of a pioneering charity, which aims to support health workers in Malawi and Uganda, including doctors, pharmacists, physiotherapists, nurses and midwives.