Challenges to Mental Health Care in Malawi

Location – Central Region, Lilongwe District, Malawi

Authored by: Katelyn Klein , Edilma L. Yearwood

Routledge Handbook of Global Mental Health Nursing

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138017610
eBook ISBN: 9781315780344
Adobe ISBN: 9781317702221

10.4324/9781315780344.ch26

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Abstract

Originally from the United States with a background in intensive care and emergency nursing, I (Katelyn) moved to Malawi to work as a nurse at a rural hospital. I cared for patients on both the adult and pediatric wards with illnesses ranging from malaria to opportunistic infections to mental illness. What I observed was that rural hospitals in Malawi are resource poor, with few oxygen machines, no CT scans, a small number of available laboratory tests, and limited medication access. I spent the first few months of my time in Malawi relearning how to be a nurse with significantly different resources and in a vastly different culture. In addition to my inpatient work, after several months I also began working for an outpatient malnutrition development program. For the malnutrition program, I regularly visited rural health centers that were part of our district and followed up with severe malnutrition cases out in the villages at the patients’ homes. I am very thankful to my Malawian colleagues who taught me how to be a nurse in rural Malawi and helped me to better understand the factors—cultural, poverty-related, and otherwise—that impact health care in this beautiful but struggling nation.

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