Over the past few years, there has been an increase in research activities at the College of Medicine in Blantyre. Although research output has increased, almost all these research activities have been in research affiliates of the college. These are semi-autonomous externally-funded research groups usually linked to a northern partner/university. These units are usually expatriate-led, with very few indigenous researchers playing a leading role. On the other hand the core college faculty carry out minimal research. Most lack research equipment, stimulation and skills to compete internationally for grants.
Dr Kamija Phiri was awarded a Senior EDCTP Fellowship to carry out a randomised placebo-controlled trial of oral iron therapy for treatment of post-malaria iron-deficiency anaemia in Malawian children comparing immediate post-discharge versus delayed treatment on iron uptake and haematological response. This study is to be based at the Haematology department in a newly established Tropical Haematology Research Unit.
This fellowship aims to establish and support laboratory research capacity within this newly formed Tropical Haematology Research Unit. This unit will support the EDCTP-funded study and many other future investigator-led studies. It will also build research capacity by supporting training of PhD and master level students in the Haematology department.
Dr Phiri used part of his grant to refurbish and equip the haematology laboratory at the College of Medicine, Blantyre. In addition, he has used funds provided by the grant to help in establishing a research centre at Zomba hospital, which has become an increasingly important clinical trial centre for the College of Medicine, supporting several malaria studies including the PhD project of Mrs Nyanyiwe Mbeye, an MCDC PhD student. The contribution from MCDC to this project has been used to cover the fees of the project architect. Applications for support for the construction of the new centre are currently under review by the Norwegian Embassy in Malawi and HRCSI (a DFID/Wellcome Trust supported organisation in Malawi).