Nigeria Health Watch: Remote Consultation via WhatsApp Revolutionises Surgical Care in Rural Malawi

19 June, 2023

Opening paragraphs and a comment from me below. Read online:


In 2020, Maxwell Yambeni encountered a life-threatening situation involving a patient at Chikwawa District Hospital in southern Malawi. A fifteen-year-old girl with a perforated uterus was in a critical state, and her condition was rapidly deteriorating.

“She was in very bad shape, battling severe anaemia and alarmingly low levels of haemoglobin. It was not a simple case,” recalls Yambeni, a clinical associate in general surgery at the hospital. Recognising the severity of the situation, he turned to a WhatsApp group called SURG Africa Managed Clinical Network (MCN) for immediate advice on transferring the patient to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, approximately 50 kilometres away.

An experienced surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital learnt about the case from the WhatsApp group and proposed an alternative approach which was to guide Yambeni and his team through the surgery remotely before arranging for the patient’s transfer...


COMMENT (NPW): In addition to SURG Africa, I am aware of an international teleconsultation service called Swinfen Telemedecine, based in UK. I would be interested to hear of others. How easily can a health professional obtain urgent clinical advice from people with more experience, and how can such advice be made available sooner?

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: neil AT