17. Jun 2016

WDF Board finds inspiration in Malawi

During a trip across Malawi, Board members experience the progress made since the country’s first WDF project in 2008, and address the challenges that remain.
WDF representatives on their way to Liwonde, Malawi on Tuesday.
“This was my dream eight years ago: that all the people and organisations working towards the prevention and care of diabetes could come together and join forces in trying to solve the growing burden of diabetes in Malawi. Today, this dream has come true.” 
 
These were the comments of Timothy Ntambalika, President of the Diabetes Association of Malawi, at a gathering of all Malawi’s WDF partners, WHO representatives, and the WDF Board of Directors on Thursday. Hosted by the Malawi Ministry of Health, the meeting in Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe explored the progress made in the battle against diabetes over the past eight years - and how the partners can meet the challenges yet to come.
 
WDF Chairman of the Board Anil Kapur and members Ida Nicolaisen, Kaushik Ramaiya, and Abdullah Daar are in Malawi this week to visit WDF project partners in the southern African country, and to experience the Foundation’s work first-hand. They were accompanied by Managing Director Anders Dejgaard, Administration and Programme Director Benita Bertram and Programme Manager Mads Loftager Mundt. 
 
“It is indeed a dream come true how you have come together and managed to create and start implementation of a joint NCD action plan, despite the lack of economic resources and other challenges faced by Malawi,” Dr Kapur responded during the meeting. “Malawi may be a poor country, but you are not poor, because poor people are people that do not know what to do, and you have shown that by working together in in creating understanding and awareness of diabetes a lot can be achieved.” 
 
He added: “WDF is glad to have been able to help you to begin this journey, but development must come from within a country and you have taken upon you the responsibility of facing this task together.”
 
Surmountable challenges
 
The trip to Malawi began on 14 June with a visit to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, where Board members visited a diabetes education session and met with patients. Visits to the hospital’s foot care clinic, antenatal department and Lions Eye Hospital followed. The trip then continued to Liwonde, where Board members visited Machinga District Hospital, where lack of skilled personnel, equipment and resources reflect the challenges faced by many Malawian hospitals. 
 
“The trip has been very valuable to the Board, as we received a glimpse of the whole gamut of WDF-funded projects and saw that WDF support over the years has made a significant difference in Malawi,” Dr Kapur says. “Of course, there are still challenges. But these are not insurmountable considering the enthusiasm and dedication of the local partners and their willingness to address them systemically.”
 
WDF representatives shared these and other impressions during a meeting with Malawi’s Minister of Health, Dr Peter Kampalume. 
 
“I would like to thank WDF for using your skills and hearts to help the world, and in this particular case Malawi, in the fight against diabetes,” Dr Kampalume said, and offered suggestions for how the Ministry could work towards ensuring that more medicine and skilled personnel are available to Malawi’s diabetes clinics.
 
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