College of Medicine (CoM), a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), has set up a coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemiological response team comprising public health specialists, laboratory scientists and clinicians.
A notice signed by CoM principal Mwapatsa Mipando dated March 11 2020 indicates that the team will be chaired by Dean of the School of Public Health and Family Medicine Dr John Phuka and will work in liaison with the Ministry of Health (MoH) which will provide policy and technical direction.
The notice further indicates that the team will have other subcommittees comprising Professor Johnstone Kumwenda (clinical subcommittee), Professor Don Mathanga (public health subcommittee and Dr Tonney Nyirenda (diagnostic subcommittee).
Reads the notice in part: “The response team has been mandated to coordinate all activities that are associated with the College of Medicine on the issue of Covid-19.
“Thus, management is encouraging any staff or student, who has an activity related to Covid-19 to inform the team of the details and objectives of such activity.”
Among others, the team has also been mandated to advise and make recommendations on how the college and its affiliates can support MoH’s national response to Covid-19 and how management can provide safety and security to both staff and students.
On Tuesday, the Special Cabinet Committee on Coronavirus, appointed by President Peter Mutharika last week and is chaired by Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, said government has put in place a K2.4 billion plan to prepare for the pandemic.
Among others, the plan will see the establishment of a laboratory, with the help of World Health Organisation (WHO), to test people for the virus locally as, currently, samples are sent to South Africa.
Global health experts worry that countries with rickety healthcare systems such as Malawi may not contain the virus that has killed over 4 000 people globally.
The outbreak has so far affected more than 114 000 people, about 80 of whom are in Africa.