Nursing Officer Ziphilly Chiumis Sichinga works in the Burns and Plastic Surgery unit at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Malawi. As part of the NHS Glasgow and Clyde Health Board partnership with the QECH, which began in 2015, Ziphilly received training in burns care and management skills. The project aims at reducing mortality and morbidity in burns and scald injuries in children. So far the partnership has trained over sixty-two nurses and clinical officers.
Ziphilly’s work really illustrates THET’s approach and our eagerness to promote shared learning, sustainable projects and resourceful partnerships. Following her training, Ziphilly was called on to aid in the training of nurses in Ghana. This was to assist with the partnership work between Great Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust and the Korle Bu Hospital in Ghana.
'My name is Ziphilly, I am a Nursing Officer in the Burns and Plastics Surgery unit, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi. Out of a passion for caring for the sick I developed an interest in pursuing a medical course, with a focus on nursing.
After graduating from the University of Malawi, Kamuzu College of Nursing in 2015, I was deployed to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital and was assigned by the chief nursing officer to various departments, including the burns unit. Due to the nature of the roles at this unit, treating patients with burns on a daily basis, many nurses shun being deployed there. But in my case, I did not have that problem, my family have had awful experiences with burns, with one of my nephews dying due to them and another one survived despite being burnt severely.
When I started in the unit, I discovered that the REBAS Project was supporting the burns center. Since I had just finished college, I knew little about burns management but the project took me through various training sessions to improve the provision of burns care. Among the various meetings the REBAS project provided in Malawi, was training in Essential Burns Care (EBC) and in Advanced Burn Care (ABC). Through the partnership I was also able to attend training in Korle Bu, Ghana where I attained a Post Graduate Certificate in Burns and Plastic Surgery Nursing.
Through the partnership, I have had many opportunities to learn more about burns management this has helped me to carry out my duties and later to share that knowledge with fellow nurses and students. Thanks to the training, we have tremendously improved the care of patients with a reduction of mortality rates of burns patients from 24% before the training, to 12% after the training.
I started advocating for a change in policies, such as the Infection Prevention Policy and Pre-operation and Post-operation guidelines at my hospital, in order to improve quality of care. I am also coordinating Continuous Professional Development (CPD) presentations on a number of topics relating to burns care.
Following my training Malawi I was asked to help with the practical sessions of the Accra Burns Project in Ghana, as part of another partnership between the Great Glasgow and Clyde NHS Trust. My stay in Ghana was great!
My Ghanaian experience showed me that there is still much to do in Malawi…I have realized that, despite the incidence and trauma that burns cause within Malawi, as a medical specialization the treatment of burns is still much neglected. I want to be a role-model to fellow nurses so that they can start to view burns as an equally important field of medical practice.
I now envision doing a Master’s degree in line with burns management as a springboard for a PhD. I hope that this will allow me to better contribute to the rolling out of improved burns management in Malawi and beyond. Currently, I would like to keep lobbying management of the burns unit to develop a strategic plan for the unit as a road map for the next five years.'