Celebrating Women’s Achievements in Health Research: WIDREM Event at KUHeS

Celebrating Women’s Achievements in Health Research: WIDREM Event at KUHeS

The Women in Infectious Diseases and Health Research Network in Malawi (WIDREM) KUHeS Chapter hosted a vibrant celebration event on April 3rd, 2024, at the Library Auditorium, KUHeS Blantyre Campus along Mahatma Gandhi. The event aimed to honor and recognize the remarkable achievements of women in infectious diseases and health research within the academic and professional sphere.

The guest list included esteemed figures such as: the guest of honor Mrs. Gift Kadzamira, Director General for the National Commission of Science and Technology in Malawi; Deputy Vice Chancellor Associate Professor Belinda Gombachika; Dr. Atupele Kapito Tembo (WIDREM Chairperson); some executive deans and their representatives from KUHeS; Directors and representatives from various KUHeS departments and affiliates, among others.

Dr. Atupele Kapito Tembo, set the tone for the event with an inspiring quote from Luke 15:10, ‘I tell you, in heaven there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner whose heart is changed.’ This verse beautifully reflected WIDREM’s belief that if they can inspire or motivate just one lady in the room, they would be excited, knowing that their goal to achieve their vision of ‘one woman and one girl at a time’ is being fulfilled. She also emphasized the inclusion of men in supporting women’s career development, noting evidence based publications on the gender disparities faced by women in these fields. WIDREM’s progress in capacity building and leadership workshops was acknowledged, with thanks extended to supporters and contributors for their financial assistance. The organization’s future plans include expanding to more institutions, enhancing visibility through digital platforms, and strengthening grant writing initiatives to support research endeavors.

The event’s significance was underscored by Mrs. Gift Kadzamira as the National Commission of Science and Technology in Malawi holds a vital role in promoting, supporting, regulating, and coordinating research activities across the country. She stressed the importance of providing an enabling environment for women and girls to excel in the field of science and research. She also highlighted the challenges faced by women at different stages of their academic and professional journey and called for continued support and mentorship to empower women in decision-making roles.

Dr. Belinda Gombachika, Deputy Vice Chancellor, spoke about KUHeS’s strategic pillars focusing on research, networking, and partnerships, aligning with the themes of the WIDREM event. She encouraged attendees to join WIDREM to inspire and empower each other. “We need each other to empower each other by providing an environment for development because we as women understand our own challenges and struggles,” stated Dr Gombachika. She thanked the event organizers and all attendees for gracing the event and taking time out of their busy schedules to attend the remarkable event.

The event also featured motivational remarks from Dr. Linda Mipando, Professor Jane Mallewa, and Dr. Kelita Kamoto, who highlighted their strength, resilience, and determination in their educational and professional journeys and encouraged the audience to do the same. Entertainment was provided by KUHeS students Joyce Chisale with an inspiring poem and music by singer Paul Ngwira and guitarist Odala Macphalen, adding a celebratory atmosphere to the occasion.

The WIDREM celebration event not only honored individual achievements but also served as a platform to advocate for gender equality and support for women in the scientific and research community. The success of this event reflects the ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive and empowering environment for women in infectious diseases and health research.

KUHeS graduates 573 students

In an auspiciously colorful red-carpet event held at the Great Hall in Zomba, 573 students from KUHeS have graduated from various health sciences programs after successfully completing rigorous courses of study. The three-cohort graduation ceremony ran from 13th-14th March 2024 and was presided over by the Vice Chancellor for UNIMA, Professor Samson Sajidu.

Among the KUHeS graduates are those who have earned their Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Midwifery, Bachelor of Science in Health Management, Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health, Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Epidemiology, Master of Science in Global Health Implementation Science, and Doctor of Philosophy in Interprofessional Health Care Leadership.

Additionally, students have graduated from specialized nursing programs, including Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Adult Health), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Child Health), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Community Health), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Mental Health), and Bachelor of Science in Midwifery. Some have also completed upgrading programs, such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Midwifery (Upgrading).

In the field of medicine, graduates have earned their Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery degrees, as well as specialized honors degrees in General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Pediatrics & Child Health, and Palliative Care.

Furthermore, other students have completed programs in Medical Laboratory Sciences, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, and a range of Master of Medicine specialties including Obstetrics & Gynecology, Family Medicine, and Internal Medicine.

The graduation stream also includes graduates from interdisciplinary fields such as Antimicrobial Stewardship, Bioinformatics, Reproductive Health, and Mental Health, among others. Several graduates have also achieved the highest academic accolade with Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Midwifery, Microbiology, and Mental Health.

The new graduates seek to embark on careers that will hopefully make a positive impact on both local and global health.

A total of 2313 students from KUHeS, MUBAS, and UNIMA have graduated in this three phase-graduation. Out of the total, 44 percent are female while 55.9 percent are male.

Among others, the following delegates from KUHeS graced the 3 phase graduation; KUHeS Chair of Council Prof. Francis Moto, Vice Chancellor Prof. MacPherson Mallewa, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Associate Professor Belinda Gombachika, Executive Deans; Associate Prof. Aarox kamng’ona, Dr. Elizabeth Chodzadza, Dr. John Phuka, Associate Professor Wakisa Mulwafu, Dr. Ides Chilinda, University Registrar Christopher Namagowa, Assistant Registrar-Postgraduate Mr. Stuart Chirambo and Assistant Registrars-Academic Support Services Ms. Siphiwe Lino and Mr. Mischeck Issa.

Congratulations to all KUHeS graduates!

Names for all graduating students from KUHeS can be accessed at; https://www.kuhes.ac.mw/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/March-Graduating-list.pdf

KUHeS launches simulation based education centre

Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) inaugurated a Multi-Disciplinary Simulation-Based Education Center on 11th March 2024 at its Lilongwe Upper Campus. The Centre aims to enhance the capacity of health-related education for postgraduate and undergraduate students through virtual simulation in Malawi and Tanzania. The project is a collaboration between KUHeS (main partner), Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College of Tanzania, and the University of Stavanger of Norway.

The inauguration was graced by Dr. Levis Eneya, Director of Higher Learning Education, who was the Guest of Honour, representing the Secretary for Education Dr. Mangani Katundu; Prof. Mac Mallewa and the KUHeS management team; Prof Ingrid Tjoflåt, Representative from University of Stavanger (UiS), Norway; Mrs. Judith Chirembo, Registrar for Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi; Dr. Getrude Mwalabu, Principal Investigator for the project; The Project Team Members, Staff and Students among others.

KUHeS VC Calls for Tree Planting Efforts to Safeguard the Environment

The Vice chancellor for Kamuzu University, Prof. MacPherson Mallewa, has urged the KUHES community and other universities to spearhead tree planting exercises in the country. Speaking during tree planting exercise on 6th March 2024, at Mahatma Ghandi and Kameza Campuses in Blantyre, Prof. Mallewa has challenged the KUHeS community to preserve trees in their campuses as well as communities as they are key to human health. He further stated that as a top medical institution in the country, the institution understands the important role tree play in the human existence and survival hence taking the step.

“As a health institution of higher learning, we know the undisputed role trees play in human life and the whole environment. Trees are responsible for recycling the carbon dioxide and turning it into breathable air called oxygen and not to mention the protection that trees offer against natural disasters. We have had issues about cyclones and global warming, all those issues are a warning and a wakeup call to humans to replenish the trees that have been depleted. This all proves that human survival depends on trees and it is our responsibilities as leaders in the society to take charge and embrace the tree planting exercise. This is why as KUHeS, we lobby for tree planting exercise to be a culture of this institution and we also urge our students to lead the exercise in their communities when they go home,” said Prof. Mallewa.

Speaking on behalf of KUHeS students body, President for Students Representative Council, Visakose Kamfozi commended KUHeS management for involving students in the exercise and called upon the students to complement the university’s efforts in enforcing and sustaining the exercise every year.

“We are delighted to be part of this exercise. It is imperative that we sustain the exercise and preserve the trees planted this year and the years to come. As students, it is our duty to remind the management about the exercise once the tree planting season is imminent. I believe as students, we need to spearhead the activities as far as preserving the environment is concerned,” said Kamfozi.

Of the 200 trees planted this year, 100 planted have been planted at Mahatma Gandhi Campus and the other half at Kameza. The activity was graced by Chair of KUHeS Council, Prof. Francis Moto, KUHeS Registrar, Mr. Christopher Namagowa, Executive Deans, students and members of staff.

Ministry of Health officials visit KUHeS

The Vice Chancellor of Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), Prof Mac Mallewa, hosted a Senior Management team from the Ministry of Health (MoH) at KUHeS main campus in Blantyre on 25th January 2024.

The team, which was led by Chief of Health Services-Reform, Dr. Martias Joshua, was sent by the Minister of Health, Honorable Dr. Khumbize Kandodo to come and appreciate the progress of renovations of molecular laboratories at KUHeS funded by Global Fund grant through the Ministry of Health.

During the visit, Dr. Joshua was taken on a tour of the Molecular Lab led by Dr. Tonney Nyirenda, Head of Pathology department and Dr. Arox Kamng’ona, Executive Dean of the School of Life Sciences and Allied Health Professions. He was also shown teaching laboratories that are using laboratory equipment funded through the same grant.

In his remarks, Dr. Joshua congratulated Prof. Mallewa of the great work happening at KUHeS and assured him of MoH continued support.

The molecular laboratories will be ready in 3 months’ time and will have improved biosafety and biosecurity infrastructure. They will host the newly established next generation sequencing (NGS) facility at KUHeS. Through this NGS facility Scientists will be able to gain deep understanding of pathogens that cause infectious diseases such as COVID-19, cholera and diarrhoea. Scientists will also be able to study the molecular basis of non-communicable diseases such as cancer. Furthermore, the facility will create an excellent training centre for laboratory scientists and bioinformaticians in Malawi.

KUHeS welcomes 742 undergraduate students

The Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) has welcomed over 700 undergraduate students who have been selected to undergo various undergraduate degree programmes offered by the University for the 2023/2024 Academic Year. The total number of students selected is 742 comprising of 345 Males representing 46.5% and 397 Females representing 53.5%. The figure also includes 15 International Students. The selected students have joined the institution’s Lilongwe and Blantyre campuses.

In a week long orientation that was held recently in Blantyre and Lilongwe, KUHeS’ Management inducted the students on the do’s and don’ts amongst other requirements that ranged from registration, recreation activities and academic calendars. Speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Academic Registrar for KUHeS, Ms. Sphiwe Lino urged the students to work extra hard and prioritise their studies to achieve their goals. She said most students lose track and get carried away with other non-academic activities that distract them and eventually affect their results negatively.

During the orientation, Executive Deans from the five schools of the university namely School Global and Public Health, Life Sciences and Allied Health Professions, Nursing, Maternal, neonatal and reproductive health, Medicine and Oral Health took turns to explain what their respective schools expect from the students.

KUHeS participates in 2023 World Diabetes Day commemorations

The 14th of November was World Diabetes Day and this year’s World Diabetes Day Commemorations took place at Mpotola Primary School ground in Ntcheu. The theme for this year’s World Diabetes Day was “Know Your Risk, Know Your Response

The Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, under the Moyo Wanga project, participated in the commemorations which were graced by Principal Secretary for Administration in the Ministry of Health Bestone Chisamile.

In support of the remarkable work that the Ministry of Health is doing, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS), with support from UNICEF and USAID has embarked on a country-wide training of Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) to conduct community screenings for Diabetes and Hypertension.

So far, about 8172 HSAs have been trained and each of them is expected to receive a BP Cuff and a Glucometre to use in their catchment areas.

CDH Investment Bank donates 5 million Kwacha towards KUHES Research dissemination conference

CDH Investment Bank has donated five million Kwacha to Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) in support of the forthcoming 2nd Research Dissemination Conference (RDC). The financial package has been handed over to the university as a way of boosting the preparations for the RDC event to be held from 30th November-1st December 2023. Addressing the press at KUHeS-Blantyre Campus, Chief Business Development Officer, Jamal Kamoto, said CDH Bank is always committed to complementing research and innovative efforts in the corporate and education sector. He said the bank is delighted that KUHeS extended the opportunity to them to contribute to this flagship event and be part of the leading partners of the institution in medical research.

The RDC event is a very important initiative as far as medical research is concerned. We believe health is wealth and we are always committed to promoting efforts that seek to address the wellbeing of Malawians who are our customers. So the package that we have donated towards this event is in line with our corporate social responsibility strategy and I believe it will help in covering some costs of the RDC event. As CDH Bank, we are always open to support medical and research work to advance Malawi’s health sector hence this donation.” Said Kamoto.

Receiving the donation on behalf of the university, Vice Chancellor for KUHeS, Prof. Macpherson Mallewa commends CDH Bank for the support they have pledged towards the event and also sounded an SOS to the corporate world for more financial support. Prof. Mallewa stressed on the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders if the quest to achieve cutting-edge medical and research innovations is to materialize.

We are very grateful to CDH Bank for the support and we are also calling for more support from stakeholders and the entire corporate world. We had initially budgeted for 130 Million Kwacha but the recent devaluation has forced us to reassess the budget to around 187 million. Through the partnerships we have, we have managed to mobilize reasonable resources but we are lagging behind as our goa is to amass the target funds ahead of schedule. The RDC has been a breeding ground for notable medical breakthroughs. This is an important initiative and the need to work as a team is vital. Hence, we are sounding an SOS to the corporate world to support this event as teamwork is the only way we can achieve higher milestones in medical research.” Said Mallewa.

This year’s RDC will run from 30th November to 1st December under the theme “Tackling the #Malawi 2063 Health Research Priorities through a multidisciplinary approach.” The event will be held at KUHeS Blantyre Campus and will be graced by the Minister of Education Honourable Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima.

Prof. Kamija Phiri Wins EDCTP award

Congratulations to Prof. Kamija Phiri for being awarded the Scientific Leadership Prize from the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) on 9th November 2023 in Paris, France during the 2023 EDCTP Forum. The prize is awarded to excellent world-class scientists in sub-Saharan Africa up to 50 years of age working on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected infectious diseases.

Professor Phiri is a clinical Epidemiologist, a senior academic and expert in clinical trials in malaria and its linked major co-morbidity, anemia. He has dedicated his time to building research capacity and testing health technologies to prevent diseases (malaria), which is in line with the EDCTP remit of enhancing research capacity and accelerating the development of new or improved medical interventions for the identification, treatment, and prevention of poverty-related infectious diseases. He has contributed to the development of a new health intervention, dubbed Post-discharge Malaria Chemoprevention (PDMC), that was recently adopted by WHO in the control of malaria.

He has built on concepts discovered during his Ph.D. research of high post-discharge mortality in children recovering from severe anemia to proof-of-principle and confirmatory trials of a preventive intervention (PDMC, see above) leading to policy adoption by WHO as a novel malaria prevention strategy. He now works with MoH in designing PDMC implementation strategies, representing the full cycle of research to policy to practice. PDMC reduces deaths by 77% and readmissions by 58%.

KUHeS students participate in IFMSA

Kamuzu University of Health Sciences Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) students, who are active members of the Medical Students Association in Malawi (MSA Malawi), participated in the recent International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA). The IFMSA event was held recently in India. The delegation consisted of Secretary General of MSA Malawi- Likhitha Mahashiva Bhattu who was also head of the KUHeS delegation, the Local Officer of SCORE (Research Exchange)- Makanaka Wendy Munodawafa and committee member Simbarashe Govore. The primary objective of the event was to engage in a collaborative platform fostering leadership and global perspectives among young medical professionals. The assembly, renowned for its influence, aimed to inspire the next generation of medical leaders through workshops, panel discussions, and networking. This dynamic approach empowered attendees to embrace their roles as future medical leaders and advocate for innovative healthcare solutions. Interactions with diverse peers facilitated knowledge exchange and meaningful connections.

Likhitha, the head of Malawi delegation had the opportunity to present on the activities that happened back in May 2023 during the Mental health awareness month. The activity was a play therapy conducted at Beit Cure International where student volunteers from KUHeS had a session with children undergoing long term treatment to raise awareness on their mental health. She stated, “our aim was to raise awareness about children’s mental health during extended medical treatments through interactive therapy.”

The General Assembly attracted over 600 medical students worldwide, fostering knowledge exchange and collaborative relationships. Attendees actively engaged in activities, including voting on constitutional amendments and decision-making. Social programs like Cultural Night and National Food Party celebrated cultural diversity. The delegation’s highlight was showcasing Medical Students’ Association of Malawi (MSA-MW) accomplishments to peers. This facilitated insights and perspectives sharing, enriching the academic community.

The delegation also interacted with experts and representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), enriching insights into global healthcare dynamics. Notably, the presentation of initiatives by the Medical Students Association of Malawi during the assembly emphasized their commitment to impactful contributions. Kamuzu University’s participation in the IFMSA General Assembly underscores the university’s commitment to nurturing well-rounded medical professionals who drive positive change globally.