Saturday, November 02, 2013

HIV and AIDS in Malawi

Although policy makers and practitioners in Malawi are aware that HIV information is an indispensable component of the fight against the HIV pandemic, their focus seems to be more on getting information to people and not the information related dynamics that drive behaviour change. According to the National AIDS Commission (Malawi) 80% of new HIV infections occur among serodiscordant couples. Therefore, understanding how they experience HIV and AIDS information is an essential prerequisite to the success in the fight against the HIV pandemic. “Behavioral studies limit themselves to shedding light on the patterns of sexual practices among specific population and occupational groups. Often these studies merely highlight the cultural stereotypes of these specific groups ignoring the underlying circumstances for their behaviors” (Kalipeni & Ghosh, 2007) My PhD project therefore investigates how serodiscordant couples experience HIV and AIDS information. I am using phenomenology. I will discuss phenomenology in the next post.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Evidence Informed Policy Making

Information availability has greatly improved in Malawi. The is a lot of local content being generated in Malawi. For instance the Health Research Capacity Strengthening Initiative has grants available to researchers in Malawi to do research.

The next step, challenging though, is to have the research inform policy. Realizing that there are skills gaps among policy makers in Malawi, the way to go would be to train the people involved in policy making.

A search for systematic reviews relevant to Malawi on Cochrane Library reveals that not much is available. Malawi needs a national research database which should include full-text research publications and systematic reviews.

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP)is working in this area and ready to collaborate in Evidence Informed Policy Making

PERii's Evidence-Informed Policy Making component (EIPM) works to increase uptake of research in policy making. They work with a range of policy makers and influencers to build the demand for research information. In addition, They work with researchers to improve their ability to provide relevant information to policy makers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Support for Kamuzu Central Hospital Pediatric Ward Library

The Pediatric ward at Kamuzu Central Hospital was recently renovated. Looks beautiful!! I was fascinated that now the ward includes a library. It is a beautiful room, however it is poorly stocked. As a librarian, I thought there is something I can do. I have committed myself to collect books from well-wisher and stock the library.

Tomorrow, I am receiving the first box of books donated by Anglia Book Distributors.

I am still looking for more donations for this project. Those willing to assist can e-mail me on

Thursday, June 24, 2010

eIFL Statement at 20th Session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR 20) held in Geneva, Switzerland 21st to 24th June 2010

Thank you, Mr Chairman, for the opportunity to speak on behalf of
Electronic Information for Libraries. This statement is supported by the
International Federation of Library Associations, and will focus on
exceptions and limitations for libraries and education.

In the WIPO study commissioned for this Committee, Professor Xalabarder
states “All works to be used for teaching purposes, either under a
teaching exception or under license, must be obtained from somewhere and
libraries are usually the source to provide the works to be used for
teaching purposes.

Exceptions and limitations increase the use of library collections,
support the research needs of library users, and enhance education. They
are important to libraries everywhere, but they are critical in
developing countries. Education is a priority for governments in Africa,
where many countries are seeking to widen access to tertiary and higher
education. This means using new modes of delivery, including e-learning.
Kamuzu College of Nursing at the University of Malawi, where I work as a
librarian, is piloting an e-learning project with a UK university to
support the delivery of medical, nursing and clinical officer education
in Malawi. If such projects – many of which are cross-border - are to
reach their full potential, we must have exceptions and limitations to
support education and e-learning policies.

We thank the African Group for their appreciation of these issues in
their proposal for a Draft WIPO Treaty on Exceptions and Limitations -
document SCCR/20/11. We welcome the recognition of the role of
libraries, archives, and educational institutions in providing access to
education, culture and information.

In particular, we support provisions that enable libraries and their
patrons to use works for education, research or private study. Although
libraries are part of the education eco-system, many national laws don’t
cater for such uses by libraries, and many more lack provisions for
virtual learning environments.

We support provisions for cross-border uses of print and digital works,
because such uses are currently problematic.

We support provisions so that copyright laws cannot be trumped by
contracts or technological protection measures. It can be difficult and
costly to negotiate terms in licences for provisions that are already in
the national copyright law, a needless waste of scarce resources in a
least developed country.

We have some initial suggestions for clarification, for example, that
the exceptions should apply to other necessary uses such as translation
and communication to the public, but we would like some more time to
carefully examine the proposal in detail.

Distinguished delegates, libraries globally spend billions of dollars on
published materials and databases, mostly funded from the public purse.
Libraries are regulated institutions, and have long been the
intermediary between publishers and library users. We sincerely believe
that our requests are reasonable and proportionate, and necessary for
libraries serving the public interest.

We look forward to discussing the issues to enable libraries to work
effectively in support of knowledge and education. We are ready to share
our professional expertise, and to engage in constructive dialogue with
Member States for effective solutions. We support the holistic approach
as put forward by the African Group.

At the same time, Mr Chairman, the international library community
appreciates the urgent need to address the issue of the book famine for
visually impaired and print-disabled people, 90% of whom live in the
developing world. We fully endorse the timetable for the adoption of a
treaty, as proposed by Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Paraguay (SCCR/20/9).
An end to the book famine is long overdue.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

(delivered by Kondwani Wella on behalf of delegation)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The second day was eventful for librarians attending SCCR20. The day started with a meeting with the African Group. We are all delighted and wish to sincerely thank the group for recognizing librarians as friends, it was a good start.

I sat in the eIFL sit waiting for a chance to make a statement on behalf of eIFL (by eIFL we mean all libraries in Africa, besides all statements made by eIFL represent the IFLA). The opportunity did not come. However, we hopeful that we will make a statement on the third day. Here, making a statement is called Making an Intervention.

The day also ended on a positive note. Groups presented their proposals on Exceptions and Limitations. There were four proposals on the table. The highlight for libraries was one presented by the African Group. The African proposal focused on exceptions and limitations for visually impaired, education, libraries and archives (SCCR/20/11). This was historic as it was the first time in the history of SCCR that a proposal for libraries was presented. Especially that the African Group welcomed comments, suggestions and advice. They have specifically welcomed contributions from librarians.

Experiences at SCCR 20

I am privileged to be part of the delegation to WIPO 20th Session of Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights taking place in Geneva.

I just want to share some of the lessons I have learnt.

First and foremost I have realized that we are the experts when it comes to library issues; and by extension we are the people who can best represent the interests of computers of copyright protected works. Specifically, the African delegates have great expectations from librarians. They expect us to advise them on exceptions and limitations that are best for Africa (read South African statement here)

We (library group) had a meeting with the African Group in which we expressed our support for their proposal. The group also welcomed contribution of the library group to the betterment of the proposal.

Secondly, people in our (country) copyright offices sing a different song from the African consensus. Some copyright offices in Africa get their funding from their partners from the developed countries. As a result they are forced to promote agendas that are little or no importance to Africa.

Thirdly, there is no straight road at SCCR. In a day you cannot plan your next step. The winds change anyhow and to survive, as a team, you have to learn to adapt quickly. Different groupings have different priorities and they continually seek opportunities to get support for their interests. Obviously, Africa as a group of developing countries has an agenda that might not be a priority for other groups yet the other groups need Africa to achieve their agendas.

Lastly, the policies that are made here are so pertinent to our work in libraries. Being here makes me appreciate more the work done by in lobbying on our behalf.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Technology and Nursing Education

Technology has transformed our lives. As nurse educators we have phones, laptops, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs),ipods and many others. Our students too have these gadgets. The students, being technology natives, are able to perform more complicated tasks with their gadgets. Surprising though is the fact that we rarely use these when teaching our students and patients.

The reasons for none use are many. First, technology is intimidating. Most of us are anxious in front of a computer, we do not use most of the functions our Blackberries have. The other deterrent is our internet. Most applications need regular updates. Besides, many nursing colleges in Malawi do not have reliable internet.

Information technology is an important part of contemporary health care delivery. Whilst the literature consistently stresses the need for nursing students to be skilled not only in computing, but to understand clearly the role of technology
in practice, it appears that much of this advice is unheeded.

Friday, February 26, 2010

ACU Digital Libraries Study for Arcadia Availability of, access to and use of academic resources by researchers in Eastern and Southern Africa

Association of Commonwealth Universities, in collaboration with Arcadia conducted a study to establish usage of e-journals at Chancellor College, University of Malawi.

The purpose of the study was to investigate the use of electronic resources in research and study at University of Malawi, Chancellor College, looking particularly at e-journals, but also at library services more generally. A particular objective was to explore the level and type of research activity at Chancellor College, and the challenges and constraints to this, in order to contextualise e-journal and library use more fully. The case study draws on the comments and experiences of around 53 postgraduates and academics. An initial survey achieved 47 responses, and enabled eight researchers to be identified willing to take part in more in depth observation exercises and group discussions.

A further six interviews were held with senior academics, and additional meetings with library and ICT staff, including the University Librarian and College Principal. A case study visit was undertaken in the week of 25 to 29 August, to work with librarians, meet academic staff and students, and explore facilities first hand.

Similar case studies were conducted in Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya.

Librarians from these countries, and top offiecrs from ACU (The Association of Commonwealth Universities Dr John Kirkland, Deputy Secretary-General Mr Jonathan Harle, Programme Officer), NASP Ms Sara Gwynn, Director of Programmes Institute of Development Studies, UK Ms Julie Brittain, Head of British Library of Development Studies The Open University, UK Ms Josephine Burt, Library Business Development Manager.

A personal highlight of the meeting is the revelation from ISI data that instant access to full-text of top 20 journals in the African Universities that participated in the study is comparable to that at University of Bristol and Lund University. Noting from the data, the major problem for African Universities (especially those participating in the INASP/PERii project)is not availability of e-journals. The problems these universities need to address are awareness and infrastructure.