Monday, 28 May 2012

Who said BICO wasnt active in serving rural communities in Malawi?

This blog is about the work of Blantyre Institute for community OphthalmologyBICO who have been in the forefront of implementing eye health community programs in rural areas in Malawi.

We have been in each and every corner of Malawi; thanks to your support and we intend to visit more areas if we can be further assisted.

BICO started in 2008 in Blantyre Malawi with a childhood blindness project (which was part of the PhD study) by the then founder Dr KK (actually it’s me); but over the course of years BICO has taken a much broader base; doing programs regarding adults as well. Many thanks for those who believed in the programme when it just started; now we can openly show its fruits. The first Non Malawian person to be convinced that BICO could do something was Lion Marco Terzetti, from Italy: who encouraged us to apply for funding from Lion Clubs.

We believe we can change many lives by improving visual status of many Malawian in the community. We are a very small organisation with no real permanent employees; yet we are able to organise many things.

In 2012 BICO has been joined by main Lions Club who believes BICO’s goals are achievable and these include the Lions Club of Netherlands, Lions Club of Arizona, USA and the   Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF). Actually BICO has previously been funded by LCIF through Lions Club of Limbe when we implemented the Phalombe children’s project in 2010 & 2011.In that Project we were supported by the Lions Club of Perugia, Italy.
I can see that we may eventually become a permanent Lion partner (somehow they like us and we like them).Sedona eye clinic in USA is funding us with lenses.

We still need your financial support to reach more rural areas in Malawi.

Together we can do more.

Do you want to donate anything to BICO?

Contact me at  :

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Finally we made it to Nsialuzu Resource Centre (Blind school) in Ntcheu

Today we are visiting Ntcheu district, in particular Nsialudzu resource centre where there are 37 children with Low Vision/Blind.I am here to familiarise myself with the place as thanks to Lions of Netherlands I will be visiting this place often.

Our objectives are twofold : To donate mattresses, mosquito nets and books that Blantyre Institute for community OphthalmologyBICO  solicited through well wishers such as Dr Vicki Mak  from New Zealand, Insia from UK,  Robray mattres in Blantyre and Lions Club of Limbe ; and secondly: to assess the condition of children in the school for the blind(resource centre). Of course the main contributor was for this trip Vicki Mak.

There are 37 blind/low vision children here and their condition is pathetic as most of them had had never had an eye examination. We are here to assess their condition and see what best can be done to improve their learning. And we have found a 11 year old boy with bilateral cataract in school registered as blind (because he is) and yet he could have come to the eye unit in Blantyre and be operated on ; and could see properly. Imagine in 2012 ; waiting for 11 years before you can go to a hospital to be helped with a condition that once is born with. Very sad indeed . But this boy will now be referred to hospital where hopefully he will regain his sight. I wonder how many more there are out there?

A full report will come on the Blantyre Institute for community OphthalmologyBICO website and there will be a video that has captured the whole event.

Together we can do more.

Do you want to donate to BICO?

Contact me at  :

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Key Informants and HSAs in Malawi

Most people want to know my work regarding this blindness in children and how I involved  key informants (volunteers) and Health Surveillance Assistants.
This whole my whole PhD thesis and results can’t be posted here on my blog.
If you want more, contact me and then I will see how I can help.
Do you want to work with community health workers in Malawi? Ask me the challenges.

What do you say?

Current Eye Research updates for BICO in Malawi

Eye Research in Malawi is improving.
Well I wish I could write more about this but I do seem to be having much time. But we are doing  good in this area: several studies are taken place at this time and BICO-Blantyre Institute for community Ophthalmology is coordinating most of these.
We are exploring further collaborations with USA and Netherlands.
But got family so have to spend more time with them. Look my daughter who was weighing juts slighly more than a loaf of bread is grown now.We even has her brother.

Being in Malawi most of the time now, I get time to spend with my lovely wife, our daughter and my new son  Yewo (meaning thank you) .I have a full package-not bad.
I am not complaining.
What about you?

Where Have I been to in this world?

Well,as i was  born in a rural area in Northern Malawi, I am not sure whether I should say I had a humble beginning. My father was a civil (public servant) and in those days it was not easy to put food on a table to feed the 8 children. Being the first born, I may have faced some pressures to prove the best (or maybe I was used pushed to prove the best).
Having gone through primary education in Mtwalo, Mzimba  I ended up in a secondary school in Mzimba and then eventually at Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
I then proceeding to do a medical degree and the others, eventually becoming an eye specialist, community eye specialist and an Ophthalmic epidemiologist.
But most important I ended up seeing many countries that are very different from the Mtwalo where I was raised up.
Here are the countries I have lived and visited –listed in no particular order.
Australia, England, Switzerland, France, Germany, USA, Brazil, Argentina, United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Abudhabi),India, China, Egypt, Cameroon, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique and the like. Indeed this means I have been to very one of the 7 continents of the world.
By Malawian Standards, I can confidently say I have extensively travelled. By Mtwalo standards, I possibly have set an unbeaten record when it comes to travelling.
I wonder how I ended up in all those places: but its simple: its to do with my work with blind children from rural Malawi that has made me see all these places. This is paradoxical: most people would think that when you start working in the community you rot there; for me it is the working in the community with poor communities that has made me exposed. I continue doing this work-most likely because I was raised up in the same poor communities and I understand their lives. Today I look back at my home pictures. Who would have known that someone coming from as remote as here would have ended up going to Universities in 4 continents. In no way is this out of my own making or my hard work; it is him the almighty that has isolated and blessed me. Who am I to be given the opportunity to dine with the most distinguished when they are more deserving persons? If you believe in predestination, God Can bless you too.

But the world is round; so wherever I go, I still end up in the same place where I left from-that is Malawi.

I rest my case.

Would you agree if I said I have travelled a bit?

What do you think?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thank you Rotarians of Limbe

We finally did it.
It was nice seeing so many people from Mulanje regain their Sight after we did Cataract surgeries at Mulanje district hospital on 20th and 21st April 2012.
Frank Mbewe my right hand man did most of the work and I am very proud of him.
Bravo to the team that went to Mulanje.
Rotarians, please support more of these eye camps.
Cataract remains the common cause of blindness in MALAWI with over 20,000 blind from the disease.
An operation to remove cataract takes less than 15 minutes (in the experience hands) so these people should not suffer unnecessarily.
What is needed is to support the team to be able to go and perform surgeries. In 2011 Malawi had a zero deficit budget; which meant zero community eye activities.

Blantyre Institute for community Ophthalmology BICO   my unit couldnt  help.

Should more Malawians be supporting cataract surgeries from their pockets?

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