Dr Martha Makwero: My WONCA Rio 2016 Experience

My name is Martha Makwero From Malawi, Central Africa. I am a proud beneficiary of the WONCA Europe Bursary  recipient . I work as a current head of the new academic FM program in Malawi.

My experience RIO Wonca attendance was very fulfilling. Firstly is the opportunity to be part of a world body that are advocating for the same cause. In Malawi FM is new. We are defining what the discipline might be in our context. Along  with advocating for  PHC  we have to fight many battles. It was therefore encouraging to hearing Doctors from different context  articulating their experiences and they have  are forging forward fighting their way into success.

It has been inspiring to meet people especially women that have done well in life. It was encouraging for me to learn that coming from humble beginnings should not be a deterrent to dreaming big. Of particular note was sharing experiences of women and young Drs through WWPFP and Afriwon who have done well despite unfortunate settings and circumstances they have passed through. It taught me about building resilience  and how to tap on different sources of strength e.g family.

Connecting with people of same interest. The rural working party was the typical example. It looks at challenges of working and setting up academic training programs in these contexts and integrating with the PHC teams there. This is the phase that FM in Malawi is going through I was encouraged to share my experiences and hear tips from individuals that have done this. One interesting thing was how perspectives differ as well. My colleagues were battling with how their health care systems can work /incorporate nursed, lower cadres. While I was struggling with how as a Family Physician  I ( that is predominantly Clinical Officer/nurse led)can integrate into their existing team to augment efforts to a common goal. These experiences broaden ones thinking and gave me a thrust to start to critically analyse the world around. With this we had a chance to collaborate with the wider interest groups to try and study some more.

Again the Wonca Women Working Party showed how one can push agenda through to WONCA body. How you can tactfully work on lobbying for a cause. I would apply this in my day to day life.


Lastly, I had to travel from the mountains to take 2-buses each day to get to the conference centre. This gave me an opportunity to see the beautiful scenery of Rio and its beaches each day.  What a wonderful experience! Thank you Wonca Europe for the opportunity!