Doctors from Ostrava Save Lives in Malawi

With every breath they took I was worried that it would be their last,” says Rastislav Maďar about the children he helped treat in Malawi. The six-member team of Czech medics had succeeded with yet another mission. Their activity contributes to reducing child malnutrition or neglected illnesses.

The successful mission of the Czech medical group from International Humanity, which also included two graduates and one assistant professor from the University of Ostrava Faculty of Medicine, focused on therapeutic and preventive care that would be otherwise inaccessible for patients in this part of the world without the help of the Czechs.

The team spent the first half of their stay in the International Humanity Rotary Hospital where patients came from remote areas – they were often places where a doctor or a white person has never set foot. The team also travelled to see patients in the neighbouring province as well.

“Our hospital has been running for three years in Malawi and the results of our work are obvious. Not only the numbers of patients with serious neglected illnesses have dropped dramatically, but also there are much fewer cases of serious child malnutrition. However, there are still a lot of these problems in the areas newly visited during our field trips but fortunately, we now have fast and effective countermeasures thanks to our past experience,” says Rastislav Maďar from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ostrava, the Chief Physician of International Humanity.

The University of Ostrava was also represented by two graduates. “During our mission, we worked in thirteen places and the spectrum of medical problems of the local patients was very wide, however, children mostly suffered from malaria and febrile respiratory inflammations that could, in combination with malnutrition, lead to serious complications,” Jarmila Siverová adds.

Veronika Štěpánková, the youngest doctor in the team, made good of her experience in the general practitioner’s office. “Sometimes, there were more than a thousand patients waiting for us in the morning and we usually ended our day with our headlamps in the dark. The field work in the African countryside is an exceptional experience for students and young graduates of the Faculty of Medicine that is worth its weight in gold,” states MUDr. Štěpánková. This opportunity was enabled by the Memorandum of Cooperation, signed by Prof. Jan Lata, the Rector of the University of Ostrava, and Aaron Maluwa, the President of International Humanity Malawi. The University of Ostrava thus has a small hospital together with the non-profit organisation in this country.

Patients come to see the doctors, or are brought on a bicycle or an ox-pulled cart from long distances and they really appreciate the Czech help. “Some children were in such a bad condition that I was worried with each breath that it would be the last,” says Rastislav Maďar and adds: “Our effort helps the patients and their families to get out of a desperate situation that they did not cause. We are grateful to the donors from the Czech Republic who care about the sorely tried people in Africa. And we can also contribute to reducing the number of migrants headed to Europe; Malawi is a very poor country, with very low numbers of citizens leaving the country, but it is one of the ten poorest countries in the world and at the time when the Czech projects were starting there, the GDP per citizen was the lowest in the world.” International Humanity uses every donated crown to help those in need and the participants pay the costs of the mission from their own resources.