Thursday, 21 May 2009
Greatest and first Malawian Eye doctor joins politics
Prof Moses Chirambo, the first Malawian Ophthalmologist is now a Malawian member of parliament and minister of Health.When I first heard that he was campaigning for a seat in Parliament; I thought it was a joke. I have always known him as a great teacher, eye doctor ,mentor and father and founder of Ophthalmology in Malawi .Trained as an ophthalmologist as Hadassah University in Israel in the early 70’s, Prof Chirambo started making a name in 1972 when he started conducting outreach eye camps all over Malawi .In 1983 , he established the SADC school of Ophthalmology in Lilongwe supported by Sight Savers International ; this school has trained over 500 eye personnel from all over SADC countries and beyond ; and now several countries including Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia have started their own training programmes using the Malawi model with Prof Chirambo helping the in designing the curriculum. In 1993, under the initiative of the Prof , the 60 bed Lions Sight first eye hospital was built and opened up in Lilongwe .In 1995, Chirambo got an International ward from the American Academy for his fight in blindness; and continued to get several awards (too many to mention). He was instrumental in teaching medical students from Malawi in Lilongwe and when I initially met him as a student in 1995 I knew I would specialise in Ophthalmology. Sight Savers Projects in Malawi flourished under his leadership as a Regional advisor and we have several buses and vehicles for outreach brought under his initiative.
Prof Chirambo was instrumental in establishing other Lions eye hospitals in Mzuzu , Blantyre and Zomba. He enjoyed doing surgery, and was very fast in theatre.
Later on when we become colleagues, we socialised every time we went for outreach camps, and he enjoyed a beer after work. I remember in 2005, we operated on 120 patients with cataract within 3 days in Mzimba District. His last assignment was coordinating the establishment of school of Optometry at Mzuzu University in the Northern Region of Malawi, and this school which started in 2008 with 5 international students has already started attracting International attention. He was honoured by the President at Mzuzu University as one of the greatest medical academic achievers in Malawi.
Prof Chirambo has published extensively International and has several articles on eye care in Malawi, and his work is quoted by most authors taking about eye care in developing countries. If you go to any University eye department in the SADC countries and say you are from Malawi, you will be asked about how Dr Moses Chirambo is? He is mostly remembered for his alcoholic working standards; being in hospital as early as 7am and leaving 8pm every day.
I have had several good times and taken pictures with him for my memories, and as he retires from the eye care sector and goes into politics I will always remember him as a great mentor. If it wasn’t for him, I would not be the community Eye Specialist I am today. But I will always wonder a man who has achieved more than a lot would want to join politics?
Are you inpired?
Should such a genius be in politics? Should I follow him? What do you think?