Building nursing capacity

Improving neurological care for newborns and children in Malawi

January 2017 – October 2019

The high number of child deaths related to acute neurological conditions (including meningitis) in Blantyre, Malawi, has led to calls for training to improve the standard of care provided in the  first 72 hours after a child is admitted to hospital (the ‘acute phase’).

The project aims to address a gap in training of nurses and midwives in Malawi, which does not currently address the neurological nursing care of newborns and children.


  • Assess the standard of care provided in Blantyre, Malawi
  • Design and deliver training to strengthen the quality of neurological care provided
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the neurological care training

What problem is it solving?

Children are often admitted to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, with diseases such as meningitis, sepsis and severe malaria. Research has shown that these children present with combinations of fever, seizures (fits), coma, low blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance and increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull). It is crucial that these symptoms are properly managed by health workers, to avoid damage to the children’s nervous systems and to increase patients’ chances of survival.

This project aims to evaluate the current quality of care provided by hospital nurses and midwives to newborns and children with common diseases of the central nervous system and to design and test new training to improve it.

The project is delivered by the Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and funded by The Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED). MRF’s International Programmes team is supporting KCN with the design and implementation of the project’s monitoring and evaluation components.


The main intended outcome of the project is to produce a protocol brief for the Malawi Ministry of Health to be used to design future nursing training. Specific objectives are:

  • To gain a better understanding of the standard of care provided by nurses and midwives to newborns and children with acute neurological conditions;
  • To strengthen the quality of this nursing through training provided by a multidisciplinary team at the Kamuzu College of Nursing.
  • To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the on knowledge, attitudes and practice of health professionals at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. 

Key partners

We take action that benefits people directly. including, training health professionals and providing support and information services.
Since the charity was founded in 1989, we have awarded 161 research grants. The total value of our investment in vital scientific research is over £19.1 million (€24.7 million).
We call for positive change as a united voice against meningitis and septicaemia, and a dedicated champion for those it affects.
Our Director of Communications explores the risk of climate change in relation to meningitis.
Provide a lifeline for those in need
Provide a lifeline for those in need
£6/€7.20/$8 pays for a 30 minute call from a trained support officer.

They listen to the issues faced by someone struggling with the impact of meningitis, and provide detailed information and support.
Jessica Brown
Former International programmes coordinator

Hello, I'm Jessica.

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