NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) has joined forces with Olympus to deliver desperately needed medical equipment to an adult teaching hospital in the poverty-stricken country of Malawi.
Malawi has one of the highest incidences of oesophageal cancer in the world. There is also a very high incidence of life-threatening bleeding from the gullet and stomach due to schistosomiasis infection. The availability of endoscopic equipment and training local clinicians in their use can significantly improve the outcome for these patients.
Professor Adrian Stanley, a leading Consultant Gastroenterologist based at Glasgow Royal Infirmary said: “Quite simply, these endoscopes, which would otherwise have ended up being decommissioned and scrapped, will help doctors in Malawi save many lives.”
Over the past six years, Professor Stanley has made regular trips to deliver equipment and regular training in Malawi, the most recent being in November 2017. Then, as well as helping run formal endoscopic training courses in Mzuzu and Blantyre, he travelled with two acute medical consultant colleagues from Glasgow Royal, Dr Christine Aiken and Dr David Colville, following a request from Mzuzu Central Hospital, to help set up a Medical High Dependency Unit.
This latest donation of five fully functioning endoscopes from Olympus, which are used to diagnose and treat upper gastrointestinal cancer and bleeding, is the result of the dedication of NHSGGC’s John McGarrity who is based in the Board’s procurement department.
Professor Stanley said: “John realised that when NHSGGC traded in equipment with Olympus for a higher spec model, the equipment was sent back to the company and decommissioned. He contacted Olympus and myself and we explained the situation and managed to persuade the company to give us the endoscopes back, for donation to Malawi. This took nearly two years to progress but the effort paid off.
This really is a win, win situation for everyone and hopefully will lead to more equipment donations in the future.”
Umar Butt, Territory Manager for Olympus said: “It's incredibly satisfying to support a cause such as this and see how much of a difference medical equipment can make to people's lives in countries such as Malawi, especially when it comes to diagnosing and treating cancer. At Olympus we focus on improving the quality of patient care every day through designing and developing innovative solutions for state-of-the-art medical systems.'
As the tenth poorest country in the world, medical equipment and training of staff are desperately needed in Malawi. NHSGGC now has a policy of donating any older, unused equipment to Malawi, once tested as safe and functioning by its medical physics team.
NHSGGC chairman John Brown said: “I am delighted that this equipment, which we no longer need will be put to good use in Malawi, a country which has only one doctor per 100,000 people. In this its 70th year, we should appreciate how very lucky indeed we are to have our NHS, which arguably gives the best medical care in the world.
“I applaud the work of John McGarrity and Professor Stanley for their dedication in bringing this to fruition. It is a shining example of NHSGGC’s dedication to global citizenship and I look forward to hearing about their progress in this area.”
Notes to editors
The endoscopic unit at Queen Elizabeth Central hospital in Blantyre was recently approved by the World Gastroenterology Organisation as the regional endoscopic training centre for East-Central Africa. Professor Stanley’s visits have been supported by the British Society of Gastroenterology and the RCPSG.
Malawi’s health infrastructure is overburdened and vastly under-resourced. It is also a country ravaged by HIV and AIDS and severely affected by TB, Malaria and malnutrition. The country’s health facilities are staggeringly sparse, with severe shortages of medical staff, medicine and even anaesthetics for operations. There is one medical school for the population of 16 million.
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