A Week in the Life of a Global Health Fellow

Our Global Health Fellows (GHFs) are hard at work on the ground in Malawi! A ‘typical’ week for them looks as the following:

Monday and Tuesday (Lilongwe): The GHFs usually work in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays, organizing their tasks for the week and attending meetings. Currently they are involved with many on-going projects and are working towards developing new ones, building partnerships and expanding the scope and reach of World Altering Medicine and their partner, Access Health Africa.

Recently they are working closely with Kabudula Community Hospital, the Lilongwe District Health Office and the Ministry of Health to conduct a needs assessment of the Kabudula Hospital to determine the direction of future programs. This project will span many months and takes a lot of community outreach. Planning alone for the needs assessment has taken a few weeks and has included multiple meetings with their community partners at the hospital, Ministry and District Health Office officials, who have granted their full support to continue.

The beautiful drive to Nkhoma Hospital where we operate the Watsi program!

The beautiful drive to Nkhoma Hospital where we operate the Watsi program!

The GHFs have also started to explore the possibility of addressing the issue of cervical cancer here in Malawi. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of female cancer in Malawi. In the central region on Malawi, there is a backlog of women who require radical hysterectomy via surgery, a potential intervention point for the organizations. AHA and WAM are working to expand their partnerships in Malawi to help address this issue and having boots on the ground is making this possible!

Wednesday (Nkhoma): Every Wednesday, the GHFs travel to Nkhoma Hospital from Lilongwe (about an hour drive) to meet, interview and follow-up with patients who are funded through a program called Watsi, and organized on the ground by the GHFs. Watsi is a crowdfunding platform that provides fully funded surgeries to economically needy patients. It’s a great opportunity for GHFs to meet the patients we are helping and see their reaction to finding out the economic burden of a life-altering surgery is lifted from their shoulders. The GHFs are responsible for submitting the patients to the online Watsi platform. Through this service, we are able to provide $7,000 a surgery a month!

Thursday (Kabudula): On Thursdays the GHFs travel to Kabudula, a community where they have many ongoing projects and are focusing their needs assessment. In the morning, they usually meet with hospital staff to talk about the needs assessment. They also will check in with the pharmacy tech, whom they work closely with to provide essential medicines to the hospital on a monthly basis. The hospital is in need of many medications, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and especially pediatric forms of common medications.

They have also started a proposal to build a Trauma Center at Kabudula Hospital. Currently, the hospital only has the space to house their entire trauma unit in a small room, not large enough to fit a patient bed. Hopefully, we will be able to provide a Trauma Unit that can house all of the equipment, patients and staff that is necessary at Kabudula Hospital.

Current Trauma Room at Kabudula Community Hospital

Current Trauma Room at Kabudula Community Hospital

After all tasks are completed at the hospital, the GHFs head to the Kabudula Secondary School to meet with their community partner there, a teacher at the school. With her, we are able to provide 50 scholarships to Secondary School students every year through our KEEP program. Students are chosen based on economic need and commitment to their education. They also attend the Girls Empowerment group organized at the school every Thursday that includes over 100 girls in secondary school and covers topics such as career guidance, relationships, reproductive health and hygiene and peer counseling.

Friday (Lilongwe): On Fridays, the GHFs are usually busy wrapping up their tasks for the week and often includes things like purchasing the essential medicines to be delivered, research for the needs assessment, cervical cancer issue and trauma proposal, reaching out to potential partner individuals and organizations to expand the organization's scope. Sometimes, meetings are held on Fridays with partners in Lilongwe, including the Ministry of Health and the District Health Office.

Saturday (Kabudula): Once or twice a month the GHFs spend Saturday in Kabudula to work with community members who are unable to meet during the week. Recently, they are gone on home visits to help choose KEEP scholarship students and hosted a meeting with all of the KEEP students and parents.

Keep on the lookout for more detailed updates of the programs that Access Health Africa and World Altering Medicine are running!