Medic to Medic
The Medic to Medic Programme is a scheme set up in August 2007 in order to sponsor healthcare students in developing countries. Kate Mandeville is a British doctor who was born in Malawi when her father was working as an engineer there. On visiting Malawi and the village where she was born, she was struck by the scarcity of doctors in the mission hospital. She went on to visit the one national medical school in Blantyre, and met with the Dean of Students. He related how many students spent their spare time trying to find extra funding rather than focusing on their studies. Some students were dropping out of the course, even in their final years, due to lack of finances. In addition, many potential able students did not have education to A-level standard, or the ability to pay the fees for the more expensive, intensive “premedical” or access course. On her return, she wrote to IMET2000, a charity set up to provide worldwide high quality medical education and currently developing an e-curriculum, proposing a joint project to sponsor medical students in Malawi. Founder Professor Colin Green was immediately taken by the idea, and the Medic to Medic Programme was hence affiliated to IMET2000.
The aim of the Medic to Medic Programme is to guarantee the tuition fees for healthcare students who have academic potential, but are in financial need. With this consistency of income, students are able to focus on their studies until graduation. Individual students are linked to donors in the UK following a similar model to the “sponsor a child” schemes run by well-known charities. Although students and donors are linked, the donations are pooled so that if a donor withdraws, no one student is disadvantaged. The sponsored students send their linked donor a quarterly email update on their progress, which increases awareness of the conditions faced by medical students in the developing world. In addition, the Programme is developing a teaching element. A summer scheme whereby British medical students go to the Malawi College of Medicine as anatomy demonstrators and British doctors who have undertaken two week “teaching-blocks” for Malawian medical students
- Access to health services - we support Ministries of Health to ensure vulnerable populations have access to appropriate, effective and affordable health services, taking a health systems strengthening approach at community, primary and secondary level;
- Addressing disease - including common childhood preventable diseases, malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and neglected diseases;
- Reproductive and child health - working to reduce illness and death among women, the newborn and children by strengthening maternal and child health services.
Links to the health workforce crisis
In Malawi, there were only 266 doctors working in the public sector in total in 2004. This equates to less than 2 doctors per 100 000 population. The World Health Organisation recommends a figure of at least 250 health professionals (including doctors, nurses, and midwives) per 100 000 people in order to provide basic health services. The problem is worsened by the skewed distribution of the existing health workers. 85% of the Malawian population live in rural areas. However, out of Malawi’s 156 public sector doctors, 81 are working in central hospitals. This leaves many districts without any doctors at all. Specialists also remain in short supply. Only 8% of paediatrician and 9% of obstetrician posts are filled. There is one neurosurgeon for the whole of the country. The Medic to Medic programme aims to add to the absolute numbers of healthcare workers in training, in order that there are more graduates in countries with critical shortages like Malawi.