Project Everest

Moving forward with data collection - Health in Malawi.

by
Maddie Balzer
Maddie Balzer | Jan 11, 2018 | in Health Consulting

After 2 weeks of goal setting, data collection and sharing experiences in the Blantyre and Nancholi communities,  it has become apparent that the health care system is a manifestation of the inequality the exists within various socioeconomic classes of Malawi. 

Major concerns within the healthcare system include the under supply and turbulent availability of pharmaceuticals, financial barriers, and often limited health literacy. 

 The consequences of these factors are far reaching and this becomes especially evident when talking to local people here in Malawi. The July team identified that long wait times at clinics and long travel times for people in rural communities were major concerns for the people. Horror stories of patients having to wait up to a week for treatment at the local hospital are far too common. This severe overcrowding then facilitates corruption, with patients having to pay bribes in order to be seen in a timely manner.

Following on from this the undersupply of pharmaceuticals at clinics is causing people to have to “clinic hop”, meaning that they go from clinic to clinic in order to gain access to free medications. This in itself gives rise to the severe overcrowding in clinics. People often won't travel to their nearest clinic because they know the clinic will not have medication so they commute to a centre where they will have access to these resources. As a result, clinics become disproportionately overcrowded and struggle to manage the amount of patients they receive. This also impacts each patient on a personal level as they have to travel longer distances in order to receive adequate medical care. People are more often than not willing to make these long distance commutes in order to have access to free medication provided by the clinics. This factor ties into the financial barriers faced in relation to healthcare.

In Blantyre and Nancholi where we have been working these last two weeks, data collected has given us an insight into the financial issues that also impact access to healthcare, particularly in Nancholi (a rural community outside Blantyre) . It was noted that many elderly and women were not working and therefore lacked financial independence, often relying on older children and husbands to provide transport and enough money for them to access health care. However, it was also noted that women and elderly people were often responsible for the care of young children. When implementing a business solution it will be important to note that women and elderly people may be the central users of these services but not necessarily the buyers.  

Another issue that the July team identified as a potential cause for overcrowding was low health literacy. When you spend time in Malawi it becomes apparent that people are well versed in the symptoms of diseases such as malaria and many are also aware of the dangers of conditions such as HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections. However there is evidence of misinformation and lack of understanding surrounding common conditions such as headaches and the flu. The July team theorised that by helping educate or develop a system that can act as a pre diagnostic tool and keep people at home to use home remedies, eg. Paracetamol for less serious conditions would be beneficial in helping to reduce overcrowding in the local clinics. They key with this is that we first need to have an understanding of to what extent the tool accurately has the capacity to “pre diagnose “ people. The December, January and February teams will/have been working collecting data and getting research protocols surrounding this.

Hopefully throughout the month we can learn more and progress the work of the last teams to spend time here in Malawi, the warm heart of Africa.

As a result of the key ideas summarised in this post the team have iterated on preexisting direction of the project and have discussed potential for further progress, keep an eye out for a post that summarises our workshop.

Zikomo Kwambiri!!

Xoxo Healthy babes

 

 

edited on Jan 11, 2018 by Maddie Balzer

Rose Peter 1 month ago

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