After years of academic excellence, Professor Nyengo Mkandawire, head of surgery at the College of Medicine in Blantyre, has formally been admitted into the community of professors in the University of Malawi (Unima).
Mkandawire was welcomed into the club of elites by Unima Vice-Chancellor Professor John Kalenga Saka on Thursday during the 13th inaugural lecture at Comesa International Conference Centre in Blantyre.
An inaugural lecture is a tradition in the university to honour those who attain the academic post of professor by giving them the opportunity to share with the public their area of expertise.
Guest of honour at the lecture Professor Jack Wirima said by being elevated into a full professor in a recognised and reputable university, Mkandawire has entered an essential phase in his academic and medical profession.
Wirima said Mkandawire has demonstrated comprehensive knowledge in his field of expertise through teaching, research and academic leadership.
“Professor Mkandawire has demonstrated excellence in his area of expertise. He has satisfied all the conditions for one to be promoted to the rank of a full professor,” he said.
Saka said over the years, Mkandawire has conducted several studies and consultancies, published books and articles in global refereed journals as well as demonstrated a valuable service in Malawi and beyond.
He said through inaugural lectures, Malawians appreciate the crucial role the university plays in advancing knowledge and outreach activities that help the country to achieve sustainable development within the democratic framework.
“This is consistent with the Unima strategic pillar on research, outreach and community engagement,” said Saka.
The university used to run inaugural lectures until 2008 when things stagnated and since then all promoted professors have not had a chance to give their inaugural public lectures.
“We are and will remain proactive after this first pace setting, we wish to break out of the doldrums since 2008,” said Saka.
In his lecture titled Global Surgery: Burden of disease and unmet surgical need – Malawi’s perspective, Mkandawire highlighted the challenges people face to access safe surgery and anesthesia services that result in avoidable deaths, disability, suffering and lost productivity.
“Such lack of access to surgery seriously undermines efforts to achieve universal health cover and attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals such as provision of adequate maternal and child health,” he said.
The professor of orthopaedics said access to surgery could be enhanced by, among others, multi-pronged approaches such as training more surgeons, task shifting surgical interventions to other health care workers and integrating surgery in essential health care packages.
“Increasingly, surgery is being seen as necessary to achieve universal health care. Investments in surgery are producing positive economic returns and surgery is seen as adding value to other public health initiatives,” said Mkandawire.