Mission to Malawi: a medic’s legacy

September 2nd, 2011

A charity set up in memory of a young Army doctor and former University of Nottingham medical student is helping to improve healthcare in Africa and providing valuable work experience for medical and nursing students.

Alex Coutselos became an Army medic and Paratrooper while studying medicine at the University but died suddenly in 2006, aged just 23. Alex had worked extensively in Africa and his love of the continent and passion for humanitarian work inspired his mother, Ruth Markus, to set up The AMECA Trust after his death.

Ruth and AMECA’s trustees attended the official opening of the new wing funded by the charity at The Beit CURE International Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The two-storey AMECA wing has a private surgical day ward, training facilities and a café, which will hopefully produce additional income. The revenue from these facilities will help to fund free orthopaedic treatment for the children of Malawi and also contribute to the Malawian National Club Foot Programme.

AMECA has also awarded bursaries of £1,000 each to 15 medical and nursing students at the University to help fund their electives (clinical placements) in Africa. Ruth met the bursary winners at an event at the Medical School in June, where they gave presentations and feedback on their trips to Africa to staff and students.

AMECA has donated bursaries to Nottingham medical students for the past three years, but this year is the first year that has been extended to nursing students. The AMECA bursaries have allowed the University to apply for match funding from the Government to help even more students fund their electives abroad. This will allow the charity to consider widening the awards to include other medical disciplines within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University.

Ruth said: “The AMECA Trust is naturally very proud of the successful completion of its first totally sustainable build project. Within days of opening, the AMECA wing was being used for elective surgical cases and the charity looks forward to receiving news of the numbers of children who will benefit from free treatment in Malawi as a result of this income-producing venture.

“The charity is especially proud to have employed the services of so many local people in Malawi and to have completed this project on time and within budget. AMECA is deeply grateful to all those, who donated so generously; the build project was funded in its entirety from domestic and community fundraising.”

Charlotte Rampton, a graduate entry medical student at Nottingham, said: “I received one of the £1,000 bursaries for my medical elective in Tanzania. As this elective was towards the end of my medical course and it was my third degree, I was struggling financially. The bursary was an incredible help as it paid for my flight to Tanzania and enabled me to see more of the country. It also meant I was able to give a donation to the hospital to help them purchase some medical equipment and restock their dwindling medication reserves.”

Associate Dean of the Medical School, Professor James Lowe, said: “It is important that health professionals understand global health issues. Ruth Markus and the charity she has created allow our students to experience the delivery of health care in Africa and, speaking to them on their return, they are changed people. I am sure that they will continue to be involved with Africa and AMECA.”

The AMECA Trust’s future plans include the building of a rural clinic for the delivery of primary health and health education in Malawi and to further support training of African healthcare professionals. In the UK, AMECA hopes to sustain and develop its support for medical, nursing and other healthcare students.

Donations to AMECA to continue and expand the work inspired by Alex Coutselos are gratefully received and can be made here: www.ameca.org.uk

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One Comment

September 10th, 2011 at 2:52 am

Malcolm Matthews

I was delighted to read about this initiative. I have visited Blantyre,Malawi 3 times in the past 18 months and will return at the end of September for a further 3 weeks. I shall make a point of visiting the Beit CURE hospital when I am there to see this new wing which has been built via the charity`s support. Congratulations to all those involved.The country currently needs all the help it can get.

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