On Tuesday, i was oriented to some aspects of the country and the documentation that will be required for my project. On Wednesday, I traveled by car from Lilongwe to Blantyre (4 h), and got oriented to Blantyre by 2 other volunteers on Wednesday. I am staying in a hotel in Blantyre which is about 30 min from the hospital were I work. Jay Graydon stayed at the hospital last year but they have provided me with a hotel room instead since there were no running water in the apartment were Jay was staying, The electricity and running water is a hit and miss even in this hotel which seems to be one of the nicest around. I am very appreciative of that.
Today, I started working at the hospital and learned about their inventory management system which is all done manually. Each product on the shelf has a log sheet beside it to keep track of inventory. Acquisition of the drugs is a huge challenge due to the availability of the drugs themselves but the limited funds to buy them. There has been a dramatic devaluation of the local currency, the Kwacha, over the last 1-2 year. In the past 12 months the price of goods have basically doubled. I have exchanged a $100 dollar bill for 36,500 Kwachas which I have received in 500 Kwacha denomination which ends up being about a 1 -1 1/2 inch stack of bills. The locals have difficulty keeping up.
There is almost no check taking place from a pharmacy point of view. They have a pharmacy technician but no pharmacist. The only thing that I can see so far is when someone is on antibiotics they verify if the patient had been on it the previous day or not so that it is OK to continue.
Only one physician serves the whole hospital with some “clinicians” that have less training but can also prescribe medications. Only the physician does surgery.
The Internet is extremely slow but can be accessed. It is not used very much.
I am just getting a sense of the scope of my project (implementing an electronic inventory management system). Hopefully, I will be able to complete it during my stay here but from what I saw today it is far from a sure thing.