Watson's pupils fund life-saving equipment for Malawi hospital

Watson's pupils fund life-saving equipment for Malawi hospital

Published on 25 April 2019

Women in a region of Malawi are set to benefit from new life-saving equipment for the preventative treatment of cervical cancer, thanks to funding from our pupils and the Watson’s Malawi Partnership (WMP).

Launched in June 2017, the WMP aims to facilitate work between our pupils, staff, parents, former parents and other friends of the school and members of the wider community to build sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships with organisations and individuals in Malawi.

According to the World Health Organisation over 1,600 women in Malawi die every year from cervical cancer, representing almost 70% of all diagnoses.

The new rechargeable battery-operated thermal ablation device is used to treat cervical precancers and prevent the development of advanced cancer. It has been gifted to a community clinic in Achikondi. The device also allows women who have been examined and found to have an abnormality to be treated immediately, rather than having to return at a later date.

Achikondi Community is one such clinic where the George Watson’s College funded thermal ablation device will be used. Nkhoma Mission Hospital has become a centre of excellence in cervical screening and treatment, including developing new screening tests with the guidance of Professor Heather Cubie and her team, funded by the Scottish Government.

This includes testing of a cervical sample for HPV which is the cause of most cervical cancers. The new test can be performed in the on-site hospital laboratory and takes 1-2 hours carry out and return the result to the clinic. The hospital has daily screening clinics where all of these things are carried out, by trained nurses and midwives.

Our school has a long-standing, emotional connection with this clinic.

Principal Melvyn Roffe said: “Our school has a long-standing, emotional connection with this clinic. An annual trip takes place each October offering pupils an opportunity to see first-hand how their fundraising efforts are helping to change, and save, lives. With the thermal ablation device and trained staff, many more women can now access cervical screening and, if needed, treatment in their own locality rather than travelling to a hospital many miles away. This is a great step forward for the health of Malawi women.”

We are so proud of our pupils, staff, all involved in the Watson’s Malawi Partnership and this project. You can read about the story in the Edinburgh Evening News.