Published: 29th November 2004
The Christian Medical Fellowship [CMF] is to launch a fresh initiative that it hopes will double the number of Christian doctors and nurses working abroad in less developed countries, which it hopes will address the drain of medical staff from Africa and Asia.
While CMF has been significantly involved in mobilising medical staff to work overseas for a number of years, the situation in many countries such as Malawi and Zambia has now become desperate. Steve Fouch, Allied Professions Secretary at CMF, highlighted the problem. “In Malawi two thirds of 6,000 public sector nursing posts are vacant. There are 150 doctors working across the whole country to serve a population of 12 million – less than a fifth of the number needed to reach the World Health Organisation minimum of one doctor per 12,000 of population. 550 of the 600 doctors trained in Zambia are now working overseas. “ [see Notes to Editors for additional information].
CMF has responded to the deterioration of the current situation by putting in place a programme of events and tools that will publicise the situation and equip medical professionals to make the transition overseas. Initiatives such as the Developing Health Course, and Elective Days for students have been designed specifically for health professionals considering an overseas placement. Additionally, CMF has designed a website (www.healthserve.org) which contains information, such as job vacancies and resources, specifically for those considering short or long term overseas work . Finally, people can contact CMF’s Overseas Desk for advice and support.
Jes and Jane Bates are working in Malawi as an Orthopaedic Registrar and in community HIV/AIDS care respectively. They said, “In our first placement in South Africa we were thrown in at the deep end but left with a lot of experience and confidence in dealing with a wide range of surgical emergencies. We were worried about losing touch professionally but it wasn’t a problem.” Jes is now based in a government teaching hospital and they are developing a mentoring role with local medical students.
Peter Armon, CMF Overseas Support Secretary, hopes that the increase in media coverage will contribute to the success of CMF’s current initiative. “Images on our TV screens such as those that inspired Band Aid, remind us daily of the desperate situation and confirm that the need for trained and skilled overseas workers has never been greater“, he said.
Through this latest initiative to encourage Christian health professionals to take their skills to where they are most needed, CMF hope to add another 250 people to the current 125 members it supports serving in less developed countries.
Philippa Taylor (CMF Head of Public Policy) 020 7234 9664
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.