With the elections last week and kids on half-term this week, it has been a little slow in the clinic here. Nevertheless, I am learning a lot and am grateful for the extra time for research, reading, and professional development. We have now had the opportunity to visit one of the public hospitals, Queens, and rehabilitation centers Malawi Against Physical Disabilities (MAP). There is an OT at each location. Visiting these places is both encouraging in the work that is being done and eye opening. It provides perspective.
Both facilities are great facilities and the OT’s are doing incredible work. Challenging work. Life-giving work.
At each there is 1 OT. That’s 1 for the whole hospital (one of the few with an OT) and 1 for the rehabilitation center (MAP).
Malawi has a population of almost 16 million people.
There are 9 occupational therapists.
That is 1 OT to more than 1.5 million people.
In the US there is need for growth within our profession, but in the US there is somewhere around 1 OT for every 3 or 4 thousand people.
The perspective shifts. However, a bunch of expatriates coming to Malawi isn’t the solution. It won’t meet all the needs. Malawi needs development and programs so that it can produce therapists, a work that is in the process. As we walked through Queens, we saw the enormity of the need. In some ways it was odd knowing that we are a private pay clinic and have limited time for outreach. However, this clinic is an important part of development here. It is Malawian run and is self-sustaining. It is ground-breaking. Later this week we will gather with the other occupational therapists in Malawi for an Occupational Therapy Association of Malawi (OTAM) meeting. I am looking forward to hearing more about the profession as it develops here in Malawi.