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Hungarian doctors in Malawi wrestling with water outage and swallowed coins

Hungarian doctors in Malawi wrestling with water outage and swallowed coins

The 19th medical missionaries of the African-Hungarian Union have set out to Malawi last Monday, have arrived on Tuesday and began performing surgeries early in the morning on Wednesday. Globoport guides us through their first days in Africa.

The missionaries of the African-Hungarian Union (AHU) are for the fourth time surgeons, and are again otorhinolaryngologists, accompanied by an anaesthetist. The team was made up of five doctors originally, but as one of them got sick, only four of them set out to Malawi. The team includes Dr László Paput head of the otorhinolaryngologic department at the Flór Ferenc hospital in Pest county, Dr Csaba Loibl, professor assistant at the University of Pécs, Department of Anaesthetics and Intensive Therapy, Dr Nelli Nepp and Dr Éva Orosz specialist candidates at the otorhinolaryngologic clinic of the University of Pécs.

Neurosurgeons were sent out on medical missions last October too, where they introduced the locals to the famous Hungarian goulash soup

AHU has sent 17 missions in the past years to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Madagascar, Uganda, Malawi and Guinea, where the medics helped over 40 thousand patients. In these regions, there is a serious lack of professional medics, for example,


Malawi is the same in size as Hungary, populated by 20 million people, but there is only one otorhinolaryngologist for all residents.

This team is the fourth taking up the task of performing surgeries, this time focusing on the head- and neck surgeries and otorhinolaryngologic operations in Blantyre, where missionaries operated previously. The tougher cases are assigned to the Hungarian medics; they have already 80 patients in line, awaiting operation in the following two weeks. When they set out, only 50 patients were waiting for surgery.

Last autumn the Hungarian surgeons were faced with a vampire scare in Malawi

All doctors have volunteered for the task; they are spending their lay-off there. Globoport writes that even though the Hungarian team took medicine and medical tools for surgery and examination with them, the local doctors do not always know how to use these, so teaching them is part of the missionaries’ tasks.

It is not just the number of the team that has changed, as originally, the ORL specialists were supposed to arrive with neurosurgeons too, but the country’s only MRI machine broke down, and without that equipment, it is impossible to operate within the skull. The two teams were set to perform combined surgeries, but this had to be separated.

The neurosurgeons will visit Malawi sometime during autumn.

The doctors are prepared for unusual circumstances, such as a power or water outage which can hinder the work inside the operating room. Their first day already started with a water outage. However, by the time they met with their patients and local colleagues, the water was back on, so the first surgery could begin. Their first patient swallowed a coin which got stuck in his food-pipe. Thankfully, the Hungarian doctors could remove the coin and the boy was allowed to go home by the time evening arrived.

featured image:, the four doctors with Dániel-Bebe Abebe (AHU’s goodwill ambassador), Raymond Irambo (AHU General Secretary), Vujity Tvrtko (AHU member)


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