The Medical and Health Care Volunteer Project aims to address some of the medical and educational issues facing the population of Malawi. We provide assistance at a local level through education, awareness and better-quality access to primary health care.
Access to health facilities and amenities is generally very poor. Most of Malawi’s mainstream population lives in rural areas and cannot afford or are unable to reach health care facilities. With over half the population living below the poverty line and the constant reality of food uncertainty, high levels of malnutrition, high malaria rates as well as being amongst the 10 countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, medical assistance is highly sought after.
What's not Included
Landlocked between the East African countries of Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique lies the home of Africa’s warmest people; Malawi. Malawi is a country filled with national parks and game reserves, lush highlands and tropical forests split by the Great Rift Valley and the clear waters of its main attraction – Lake Malawi.
The project is made up of a number of community outreach, health care and medical projects. Placement will depend on your experience, interests and the primary need at the time. Opportunities may include:
Following a government-sponsored program, and with the help of experienced translators, you will plan and present training sessions to groups of local volunteers on home-based care subjects for the purpose of capacity building. Past topics include HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention, personal hygiene, drug administration, recording information, first aid, wound care, bed bathing, infection prevention, sexual health awareness, nutrition and digestion, TB and recovery.
On this project you may also visit the homes of chronically ill patients. This forms an essential part of the training for local volunteers, helping them become home-based care providers.
This placement requires volunteers to clean wounds and aid in basic dressing and bandaging, as well as making recommendations for hospital transfers for more serious injuries, or if further action or antibiotics are needed. This is vitally important in areas where wounds would otherwise go unattended, often ending in serious infections.
Education and awareness is integral in the management of one of the greatest pandemics on the African continent today. Help to increase community understanding of HIV/AIDS and lessen the stigma related to the disease, as well as educate the local population about prevention and treatment.
- Provide support and counseling through community groups for those living with HIV/AIDS. This may also include nutritional advice and information about other related diseases.
- Encourage and help with drama workshops and presentations created by those living with HIV/AIDS. These productions will then be performed to audiences in the surrounding villages in order to aid with understanding and education regarding the disease.
This work on this project is primarily suited to volunteers with previous medical experience, medical professionals, or medical students, as the center provides primary medical care and treatment.
The center has a number of departments in which volunteers with relevant experience may assist, including an outpatient ward, female ward, male ward, maternity ward, nutrition unit, laboratory, pharmacy and basic dental treatment. Typically, qualified volunteers will assist the local nurses and doctors in their everyday duties. This may include midwifery, ward rounds, cleaning and dressing wounds, minor medical procedures, etc.
There is also some lab technician work available, carrying out vital tests, such as haemoglobin, malaria, syphilis and pregnancy testing. Less experienced medical students will have the opportunity to shadow local nurses or doctors and assist with more administrative duties, but will gain valuable insight into medical care and treatment of tropical and infectious diseases in an emerging country.
Malaria Prevention and Awareness
The high material costs of this project means that this option is not always available. If the placement is running during the time you are volunteering, work may include:
- Assist with malaria prevention techniques, education and awareness to help minimize occurrence.
- Conduct valuable malaria project data collection and organization at various stages of the project.
- Distribute mosquito nets and spray homes.
This project work takes place in the mornings and is for volunteers with little medical experience, or anyone with an interest in pre-school education and child-care.
- Get involved with pre-school teaching to prepare the children for school.
- Promote the importance of health and nutrition, including assisting with our feeding scheme.
- Help the local volunteers improve their English and teaching skills.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Minimum age 18
- Good command of English
- Physical fitness
- Motivation to work with children
- Volunteers interested in working at the Rural Hospital will need to provide documentation ( Including: a letter of reference, proof of registration with the medical council in your country of residence or proof of registration at your place of study)
- Volunteers interested in working at the Rural Hospital will also need to pay an additional registration fee of up to $250
- Immunizations (please consult your local travel clinic)
- Police clearance form
Project Orientation (Included):
The day after your arrival at the project site, you will receive a comprehensive orientation, including:
- An introduction to Malawian culture
- Basic local greetings
- Your health and safety whilst in Malawi
- An introduction to some of the project staff
- Money and transportation in Malawi
- An introduction and background to the teaching project
- Workplace ethics
- Weekend excursions and free time
Travel Extras (Not Included):
Weekends are free and you may spend them as you wish. The project coordinators can help arrange day trips and weekend excursions including the following at an additional cost:
- The nearby village of Cape Maclear has a number of small tourist lodges, offering great snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving and craft stalls.
- Liwonde National Park is a popular safari destination and offer game viewing drives, boat rides on the Shire River, and walking tours.
- Zomba Plateau is a good place for walking and enjoying the views, relaxing in the cooler climate, or horseback riding.
- Other highlights that are a bit further away, which you may like to see in your free time, are some of the other impressive National Parks, Salima or the Mulanje Massif. Alternatively, you may wish to just relax by Lake Malawi.