The School of Medicine's relationship with Malawi officially began in 2008 when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the School and the College of Medicine in Blantyre, Malawi.
Since then, a number of projects around curriculum development and global health have seen teams of students, teaching staff and researchers working primarily in Blantyre and Lilongwe with medical teachers and healthcare providers in Malawi.
Global Health initiative
The School of Medicine's Global Health initiative was launched in 2013 in Malawi with a commitment to studying the upstream barriers to health and wellbeing through the lens of core human rights or survival rights.
The Arclight is a low-cost diagnostic tool that was developed by the Global Health team in St Andrews. Primarily used as an ophthalmoscope and otoscope, it has the potential to radically improve diagnostic screening capabilities in low resource settings where access to traditional equipment and the consumables to maintain them is limited. Research has shown the Arclight to be as effective and, in some cases easier to use than traditional devices that are used to screen for conditions that cause blindness and deafness.
The School of Medicine has helped get Arclight devices into the Vision Centre at Mzuzu Central Hospital and to Nkhoma Mission Hospital, where St Andrews' students Merlin Hetherington and Alex McMaster carried out training sessions as part of their Arclight Tandem Africa journey.
The relationship between the University of St Andrews and the Malawian College of Medicine is over 20 years old. The College was founded upon the basis of previous medical training at St Andrews, and many of the graduates of Medicine and of Health Care Management now hold the highest clinical and governmental positions in Malawi.
A Scottish Government grant supporting this work between 2008 and 2015 helped provide computer hardware and connected the College of Medicine’s intranet with broadband internet, enabling student access to the new CMS.
The School of Medicine at St Andrews also assisted the College of Medicine with the development of an electronic student record and reporting system, examination recording and improving online library resources for both staff and students.
Thanks to the collaboration between the two medical schools, close contacts are developing between undergraduate students and staff at the College of Medicine and their counterparts at the St Andrews Medical School.