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Glasgow's Hospitals in Mission to Save Lives in Malawi

May 30, 2007 4:45 PM

A former US president and Scotland’s best known entrepreneur are teaming up with Glasgow’s hospitals in the hope of saving thousands of lives in Malawi.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has joined forces with the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative to deliver desperately needed medical equipment to hospitals across the poverty-stricken country.

Health Board Chairman, Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the people of Malawi, with whom NHSGGC already has strong links.

“Thanks to our own modernisation programme in Glasgow, we not only have the opportunity to improve services for the people of the West of Scotland, but also to make a significant improvement to health services in one of Africa’s most densely populated countries.”

Sir Tom Hunter said: "This is a pragmatic and focused partnership that will undoubtedly make a significant and lasting difference to Malawi - I'd like to thank Sir John for his personal leadership of this initiative. We have much to do in the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative and welcome this type of partnership with open arms."

High tech hospital equipment – including ventilators, heart monitors and operating theatre kit – will be shipped the 5,290 miles to Malawi in the next few weeks.

Among the hospitals that will benefit from Glasgow’s aid package will be Bwaila Hospital, one of the country’s main maternity facilities based in the capital city of Lilongwe, and Neno District Hospital, in the impoverished rural area of Neno.

Former US President Bill Clinton and Scots entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Hunter teamed up their charitable Foundations last year to deliver aid to Malawi.
They have now joined up with NHSGGC to identify equipment which would be useful in Malawi, transport it into the country and place it in healthcare facilities.

NHS technicians have been busy testing and servicing the equipment to ensure that once it arrives in Malawi, medics on the ground will be able to put it to use straight away.

Cassia van der Hoof Holstein, Director of Rural Health for the Clinton Foundation, said: “The equipment donated by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde will be used directly for patient care. In some cases, it will replace non-functional equipment; in others, it will supplement existing equipment. In all cases, it will enable staff to better care for their patients, extend the services and treatment available, and support the provision of high-quality care to the mothers and infants at Bwaila and the residents of Neno.

“This gesture of partnership connects the people of Malawi and Scotland, and the clinicians operating in Neno and Lilongwe with Greater Glasgow and Clyde.”

As the tenth poorest country in the world, medical equipment, facilities and staff are desperately needed in Malawi.

Malawi’s health infrastructure is in turmoil; it is overburdened and vastly under-resourced. It is also a country ravaged by HIV and AIDS. Out of a total population of some 12 million, one in ten adults is HIV positive.

With an average life expectancy of only 39 years of age, even without the impact of HIV and AIDS, Malawi has been severely affected by TB, Malaria and malnutrition.

The country’s health facilities are staggeringly sparse, with severe shortages of medical staff, medicine and even anaesthetics for operations.

And so chronic is the country’s shortage of medical staff that on average there is only one doctor per 100,000 people.

Sir John added: “Thanks to international aid projects some progress is now being made. However, hospitals still have very little equipment and there is an acute shortage of trained medical staff. Our collaboration with the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative will mean a great deal to those medics working tirelessly in Malawi to improve the county’s healthcare infrastructure.

“I am delighted that our own hospital modernisation programme has allowed us to take part in such a valuable humanitarian project.”

It is hoped that this life-saving shipment of equipment will be the first of many from Glasgow to Malawi.

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For further information please contact the Press Office on 0141 201 4429.

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