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For five weeks, Arletta Chryścionko, specialist in internal diseases and lung diseases, worked as a volunteer in Malawi at the CURE Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, at the Department of Pulmonology. Arletta normally works at St. Vincent a Paulo Hospital in Gdynia at the Department of Internal Diseases. Moreover, she has worked for 14 years at the St. Lawrence Hospice. She did her voluntary work in Malawi during unpaid leave and she covered the cost of flight and accommodation. On Friday she returned to Poland.
- I met a lot of great people here, volunteers, local inhabitants… I made some friends, I am sure to take the friendship back with me, she talks about her impressions of the stay in East Africa, I am not saying farewell for ever, neither to Malawi nor to the African continent, I will want to continue my voluntary work in these regions, she assures.
As Arletta says, Malawians are a proud and likeable nation despite the poverty prevailing here and the harsh living conditions. Here, it is simply not proper to not stop and talk to the person you encounter. And everybody is always smiling, and time has a completely different dimension. However, there are a lot of needs in Malawi. In hospitals and pharmacies there is a shortage of medicines and medical equipment, and that which is available is less than the basics. There is also a shortage of education. It is only two years ago that compulsory general education on the primary level was imposed; nevertheless, parents often do not send their children to school because they cannot afford it. Medical universities have been around since only recently and there is still a shortage of doctors. Those that are there are mostly in large cities; in the smaller locations it is feldshers that cure people. In the region where Arletta worked, there is only one pulmonologist even though tuberculosis is a common disease here. The health care service operates to a large extend thanks to volunteers from Europe and donations from charities.
Arletta worked in hospitals during on-call duties and she also visited medical points that serve the patients who are not able to make the long journey to the hospital; in some cases they simply have no money. She also prepared a lecture for the doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. Additionally, she delivered to the QEH a spirometer with software and a laptop for the spirometer, pulse oximeters as well as some medicines that she bought with donations contributed by individuals through the PMM.
Furthermore, Karolina and Piotr Siwicki with their children have been staying in Malawi for almost a year. Karolina is an orthopaedist and works at a hospital in Blantyre, and her husband supports the centre with his experience in administration. The Siwicki family hosted Arletta in their Malawian house during her stay there.
Polish Medical Mission has the honour to support the voluntary work of the Siwicki family and Arletta Chryścionko in Malawi.