Nkhoma Hospital

Missionary Hospital | Malawi

Hospital description

Nkhoma Hospital is a great place for students to advance their clinical skills. The hospital has one of the best eye clinics in the region.
Nkhoma Hospital is a small mission hospital about 60km south of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe. The mission was founded in 1889 and some of the current buildings date back to 1912 when the current site was established. It has expanded over the years into a reasonably well-equipped 220-bed facility, with all major departments and a busy eye unit. The Hospital’s primary catchment area is the surrounding rural 32,000-strong community, but it is highly regarded in the country as a whole and serves patients from all over Malawi as well as from neighbouring Mozambique. It offers inpatient and outpatient care on site and has 10 community health centres within its catchment area.
As is typical in much of Malawi and elsewhere in Africa, the rural clinics are staffed by nurses or medical assistants and so the hospital itself functions very much as a primary care unit as well as providing secondary care services.
Student Clinical Involvement
There are great opportunities for clinical elective students with good supervision. Nkhoma has links with a number of different Universities in Europe and the US and so there are often a number of students there at the same time doing clinical attachments.
From my experience on the medical wards the best way they can learn is to get involved as much as possible in what is going on. This usually means joining the ward round in the morning and then following up on jobs that arise from that in the afternoon. Following up on individual patients is a great way to learn and can also help the clinicians a lot, too.
There are 52 medical beds – though often more patients than that! There is very good specialist support and advice. HIV is as you might expect a major problem with a very high percentage of patients admitted to the medical wards affected. Many other conditions seen are HIV related especially TB which often presents atypically. Other common conditions are malaria and pneumonia.
There are similar learning opportunities in all the departments and also in outpatients. In addition there is the chance to join regular visits to rural outlying clinics supported by the hospital.

University Links
My links with Nkhoma started through Dundee University and Responsible Electives which I help coordinate. We have strengthened these links with students carrying out small research projects there as part of their intercalated degrees in International Health. This year (2013) three students did projects there and four students did projects in 2012. The original ideas for their projects come from the hospital itself to ensure they would benefit the hospital and have included one on barriers to TB treatment and another on the effectiveness of the local residual spraying programme for malaria.

Known as ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’, the landlocked nation of Malawi in Southern Africa is bordered by Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. In size it is roughly half the area of the UK and is dominated by Lake Malawi which at 580kms long is one of the largest lakes in Africa. It has strong historic ties with Scotland from the time of Livingstone to the present day with many current projects and initiatives.
Malawi is a spectacularly beautiful country but remains one of the poorest in the world with an average income of approximately US$2 per day and a life expectancy of 54 years (compare that to US$ 91 and 80 years in the UK using comparable statistics)


Hospital type Missionary Hospital
Local language English
Funding Status Unknown


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