Despite a growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country, research indicates that Malawi has a shortage of scientists to implement effective health interventions.
A review paper on building research capacity, implementation and translation expertise on NCDs by Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Brite Consortium, shows that prevalence of various NCDs continues to rise in the country.
For instance, the review paper points out that the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes among adults has been estimated to be 33 percent and six percent, respectively and that both conditions have not been diagnosed and, therefore, have been untreated.
According to the review paper, at least 40 percent of adults have had abnormal lung function that is largely restrictive and risk chronic respiratory diseases.
The paper states that African countries, including Malawi, have vulnerable healthcare and limited number of healthcare providers; an important barrier to efforts to have a critical number of scientists to produce much-needed, locally relevant research evidence.
In an interview, health rights activist Maziko Matemba, said shortage of specialised medical officers in NCDs is a major concern.
He said: “It is now important for government to seriously consider making it as a priority in planning more especially now that the United Nations will be discussing health as a major agenda at the UN General Assembly in September 2019.
“Luckily, Malawi has a medical college, what is required is to capacitate its college intake to areas like NCDs and other conditions.”
NCD Brite Consortium is led by University of Malawi’s College of Medicine, Dignitas International, University of North Carolina-Project Malawi and brings together institutions championing NCD training and research in Malawi.
The World Health Organisation defines NCDs as non-infectious diseases that are long-lasting resulting from a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviour factors.