Malawi's Alumni Fleming Fund Fellows visit Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh hosts Alumni Fleming Fund Fellows from Malawi, accompanied by Dr. Collins Mitambo, Head of Research at the Ministry of Health.
The University of Edinburgh has played a pivotal role as the host institution for Fleming Fund fellows from Malawi, providing valuable support for training and research addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The fellowships started in the summer of 2020, and the visit in June provided a very fitting culmination to many highly productive and valuabel activities. In addition we were fortunate that the fellows were accompanied by Dr. Collins Mitambo, Head of Research at the Ministry of Health in Malawi.
Showcasing the impact
Over the last two years, the fellows have undertaken a significant One Health project to assess AMR patterns in Escherichia coli on poultry farms in the central region of Malawi. This project is a pilot initiative that has run alongside broader efforts to implement the country's AMR National Action Plan.
During their visit, the fellows were able to showcase results from this collaborative project at the Edinburgh Infectious Diseases 12th Annual Symposium and also to the Scotland Malawi Partnership Health Forum. The fellows' project has provided critical data that is now been used by the Malawi National Coordinating Committee for AMR to inform development of the new National Action Plan, due for delivery later this year.
We were delighted to host Dr Mitambo, the Malawian alumni fellows and all involved in the Fleming Fund Fellowship Scheme. Global challenges like antimicrobial resistance necessitate a collaborative, global approach, with the sharing and dissemination of research data and learnings from diverse regions. This event, chaired by Professor Liz Grant was a valuable opportunity to benefit from Malawi’s research and insights into AMR and to connect people and projects. We wish the Fleming Fund Fellows every success in the important roles they have taken up in Malawi.
Advancing AMR Research: Collaborative Discussions at the University of Edinburgh
The visit also provided further opportunity for the fellows to continue work with University of Edinburgh mentors Dr. Adrian Muwonge and Dr. Stella Mazeri to fully analyse and discuss the results from their project. This collaboration is one of the first systematic studies of antimicrobial resistance in the poultry sector in Malawi. Their efforts aim to establish a robust surveillance approach for antimicrobial resistance in the country, laying the foundation for future interventions and policies to combat this pressing issue.
Dr. Mitambo had fruitful discussions with various academics and clinicians from the University of Edinburgh, as well as representatives from the Scottish Government's Directorate for Health and Social Care. These discussions focused on exploring areas of potential synergy and sharing different approaches that have been implemented to combat antimicrobial resistance in both Malawi and the UK.
The Fleming Fund Fellows is an inspirational programme – opening up opportunity and friendships which I am sure will last a lifetime. The importance of the programme recognised through the recent visit of Dr Mitambo to The Roslin Institute. I look forward to Roslin hosting more and more Fellows as this programme goes from strength to strength.
As the AMR Coordinator for Malawi, one of my key responsibilities is to establish sustainable frameworks within the Ministries of Health and Agriculture and build valuable professional networks. Our recent visit to the University of Edinburgh was an exceptional opportunity for me and the Fleming Fellows to expand our global connections. It provided valuable insights into the international collaboration fostered by the Edinburgh Infectious Disease team and the Scotland-Malawi Partnership. This enhanced understanding will greatly strengthen my capacity to effectively leverage our shared interests.
Dr. Mitambo's visit was an excellent opportunity to share experiences and discuss priorities in infection-related research. Scotland has a long track record of working with partners in Malawi and Dr. Mitambo's visit enabled Edinburgh researchers to present their response to a range of challenges including AMR, surveillance of infection in One Health settings and pathogen transmission.
During the visit, Dr. Mitambo had the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders. This included academics involved in translational approaches in medicine, healthcare workers from the National Health Service (NHS) focusing on health policy development, and members of the Scottish Parliament who are actively supporting partnerships with Malawi.
We hope that the visit of Dr. Mitambo and the Fleming Fund fellows will greatly enhance the partnership between our institution and Malawi, leading to the development of impactful interventions to address the global burden of infectious diseases.
Malawi Fellows visit Royal Highland Show
On the final day of their visit, the Fleming Fund fellows, accompanied by Dr. Mitambo and the Edinburgh team, attended the Royal Highland Show. The show has been tradition since its inception in 1822, and provided valuable displays of farming practice, technical innovations, and educational workshops for our visitors.
The Fellowship with the University of Edinburgh has been a journey of growth for me as a professional. On top of the knowledge and skills gained in my field of work, belonging to an interdisciplinary One Health team has refined my perspective towards healthcare. Our visits to the University of Edinburgh have been the culmination of the learning experience, according us access to renowned professionals in their respective fields and granting us exposure that redefines the bigger picture for us as fellows as we work towards improving the quality of health care in our setting through mitigating the development and spread of AMR.