Malawi is a beautiful and peaceful country that is wracked by poverty and over-population. The average life expectancy of 38 years reflects some of the world's highest rates for infant and maternal mortality, malnutrition and infectious diseases. Despite the dire health statistics the country has one of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita (1 per 50,000). These factors and international epidemiological studies would suggest that the rates of mental illness in Malawi are at least as high as those in western and other developing countries. Mental Health Service provision is extremely sparse and there is only one state psychiatrist, Dr Felix Kauye.
The Scotland Malawi Mental Health Education Project (SMMHEP) aims to provide sustainable support for psychiatric teaching and training for health care professionals in Malawi. The project has enjoyed close links with individuals and institutions in Malawi since 2006 and became a registered Scottish Charity in 2008, converting to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) in September 2014.
Currently the project delivers the teaching of the psychiatry module to the medical students,supports post graduate psychiatry trainees(Masters in Medicine) and delivers training to psychiatry nurses and clinical officers based in Zomba Mental Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre. We also help organise the annual Mental Health Conference in Malawi that is attended by delegates from sub Saharan Africa, the UK, Europe and the USA.
The project has received support from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (London and Scotland), the Scottish Government, National Health Service Education Scotland (NES), the Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) and local postgraduate Deaneries and tutors.