Although Malawi announced its first case of COVID-19 on April 2, later than most other countries, and the total number of cases is still relatively low, the United Nations reports that the effects of the disease could be devastating in a country in which many people live in poverty and cannot access a robust health-care system.
“Even a fairly low number of cases,” says Maria Jose Torres, UN resident coordinator in Malawi, “could overwhelm the health system, cause food shortages, and reverse the path of progress the country has been on in recent years.”
Because Malawian hospitals have limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, the government is working to control the spread of the virus. The doctors who work in Malawi are also volunteering to purchase extra PPE kits themselves.
Terrie Taylor, a distinguished professor at Michigan State University and an internationally recognized scientist and doctor, has studied and treated malaria and its complications in Malawi for over thirty years. For the last six years, we have worked with Dr. Taylor and others at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, one of the largest malaria research centers in Malawi, to detect cerebral malaria, which kills hundreds of thousands of children every year and is a leading cause of neuro-disability in sub-Saharan Africa.
When we found out from Dr. Taylor that the Pediatric Research Ward needed PPE, we were glad to offer to contribute. Dr. Vinayak Joshi, senior research scientist at VisionQuest, says.
We are aware that the clinics in Malawi have limited resources in terms of equipment, medical supplies, and protective kits. In spite of that, the clinical staff is 100% dedicated to helping people and improving community health in both research and care environments. In the light of COVID-19, when it’s necessary for health-care workers to have PPE kits to remain functional, we wanted to contribute a little to their efforts by making sure our health protectors are protected as well.
In this moment of global crisis, we believe it is our responsibility and privilege to support the health-care and research community in Malawi, whose members work tirelessly to save children’s lives in one of the world’s poorest countries.