I didn’t know much about Malawi until today. Sum total of my knowledge was that Steve Harley once took a fancy to an ape there who kissed his head and his eyes went all starry and that was about it. As I say, until today.

Then the phone rang with a journo on the other end saying he’d had some information from the World Health Organisation (and I refuse to put a z in that last word, even if it is truer to the original Olde English) saying that there are more Malawian doctors working in Manchester than there are working in Malawi.

The thing was, they hadn’t included any figures to corroborate their assertion and could I help. Just how many Malawian doctors are there in Manchester? Somewhat flummoxed, I made confident noises and said I’d get back to him.

After a couple of phone calls of my own, it was back to the WHO website. Malawi:

Malawi faces the triple threat of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and weak government structures. The country ranks 83 out of 95 on the UNDP Human Poverty Index scale, has the 4th lowest GDP in the world and very high HIV/AIDS prevalence. It is prone to droughts as well as floods and every year it needs thousands of tonnes of food aid.

Droughts and floods? Malawi twinned with London then.

Back to the doctor claim, all we (the NHS) have is information about ethinicty, but not by nationality. We know which doctors consider themselves African (no pun intended) or Asian or Chinese etc, but not which country they come from. And if we don’t, how does WHO? Sounds like one of those 93% of all statistics are made-up stories.

Meanwhile, I know more about Malawi, at least enough to scratch it from my list of ‘100 Places to Visit Before You Die and You Will Die.’ But I’ll bet Bono and Saint Bob love the place.

Oh, and they have a flag that looks like Coco the Clown having a pee behind a red and green wall. (See above)

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

3 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 31st May 2006

    An amusing description of the Malawi flag – very droll. However, what is puzzling me is why they phoned you – are you the Mayor of Manchester or something? Actually, in my view the importing of health workers from the Third World should be a source of acute national shame and embarrassment and yet the trade continues unabashed. All you have to do is wave a big fat salary cheque and they come running – of course they do – but we shouldn’t be waving the damned thing.

  • Shooting Parrots 1st June 2006

    Not the Mayor alas. A mere functionary, one of whose functions is to answer a) pertinent, 2) misguided and 3) bloody stupid questions from the media.

  • Shooting Parrots 1st June 2006

    Should also have addressed the imported doctors question. There is a long list of countries that the NHS does not actively recruit from, from Afganistan to Zimbabwe, Malawi included.

    China asked to be taken off the list in 2004, but not doctors working in rural areas.

    Given that the special status of overseas doctors training over here because we have enough UK or EU trainees, surely something is being done?

    Blimey! I’ll make a politician yet. Mayor of Manchester here I come.


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