Developing Partnerships; Supporting Healthcare Delivery

Challenges and Potential in Health Care delivery in Malawi

  • Malawi is a low income (DFID priority) country, characterised by a heavy burden of disease, evidenced by a life expectancy of around 58 years.
  • In addition to a continuing high prevalence of infectious diseases, there is a growing burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). It is estimated that 5.6% of adults have diabetes and 33% have hypertension - the majority unrecognised and untreated at present.The Malawi Ministry of Health priorities now include the growing challenge of NCDs, and highlight the need to manage these through community healthcare services accessible to the whole population. 
  • The ability to meet these health challenges is compounded by the striking lack of health care staff resource at all levels. For example, there are <2 doctors /100,000 population in Malawi, compared to the UK with 277 doctors/100,000 population. This highlights the need to develop a trained and supported healthcare workforce within the country.

Scotland has a close and longstanding relationship with Malawi and RCPE is a member of the Scotland Malawi Partnership.  Over the last few years, the International Development Group has been exploring, and developing, links with academic and healthcare institutes in Malawi which included in a RCPE visit to Malawi in 2015 (supported by a start-up grant from THET).

RCPE is developing two key partnerships in Malawi:

  • Support of Postgraduate training in Malawi

The College of Medicine (COM) University of Malawi is based

IDG Members with Dr Jane Mallewa and Professor Victor Mwapasa
IDG Members Dr Liz McDonald and Dr Alan Patrick (centre) with Dr Jane Mallewa (left) and Professor Victor Mwapasa (right).

in Blantyre training the medical graduates vital to build capacity within Malawi healthcare workforce.  A Memorandum of Understanding between COM and RCPE was signed in 2015. RCPE is able to support local Postgraduate training by providing educational resources and opportunities such as entry to the MTI scheme.


  • Non-Communicable Disease Management in rural Malawi

IDG Members and staff at Kasina Health Centre
IDG Members Dr Sue Pound and Dr Alan Patrick (centre) with staff at Kasina Health Centre.

This a joint proposal between RCPE and Nkhoma hospital- 260-bedded General Hospital in central rural Malawi.  The key goal of this project is to create a trained Health Centre workforce, to allow sustainable delivery of programmes that will identify and treat common NCDs in the rural setting.  The experience and skills in NCD management within the RCPE community essentially matches the gap that exists within the small but dedicated clinical team within Nkhoma Hospital.

Our goal is to develop a long-term RCPE volunteer programme, providing regular visits to Nkhoma to support the implementation of these NCD programmes (currently paused due to the pandemic).

For further information about RCPE Partnerships within Malawi please visit our main Partnerships & Volunteering page or contact Ellie Barnes.

Further information: