Tag Archives: healthcare

More books for medical students in Malawi

With around 300 students to teach, lecturer Prisca tells us how books donated by Book Aid International impact lives for those at St John of God College of Health and Science in Malawi.

Healthcare in Malawi is under constant strain, with the threat of HIV, malaria, TB and many more diseases the daily norm. Add to this the pressure of Covid-19 and you have a healthcare system stretched to its limit.

With very few doctors and poorly established community-level health services, it can be hard for patients to get the care needed. That’s why Prisca and many other lecturers believe in empowering communities at the grassroots, to create the next generation of health professionals in Malawi.

But for lecturers like Prisca, educating her students provides its own range of challenges.

I think most colleges have libraries, but the standard of the books was not up to date. 1993, 1992, they were old books.

Without up to date information, students are taught outdated content, which continues to hinder healthcare development in Malawi, and for Prisca, it doesn’t stop there.

Libraries are small, and students many.

Students sharing a book at the college library back when it was still open

With such few books, students often have to share between sixty of their peers, loaning for an hour or so before they need to pass it on.

At Book Aid International, we believe every student should have the right to quality information. That’s why, with your support we’ve been able to send a total of 4,708 books to date to St John of God College of Health Sciences in Malawi, allowing all students to access up-to-date information.

With more books available, students can take books out of the library and have access to quality information both at home and on campus, something which remains critical to learning during Covid-19.

Lecturer teaching students before lockdown

Without this service, students this semester are unlikely to graduate, leading to a potential shortage of doctors and nurses in the coming years.

2020 without Book Aid International? It would have been a disaster. They would have even less information and both teachers and students would have had problems accessing information. So, the value of the books we receive is priceless. It really helps us to do our job and for the students to learn.

Books have made a huge difference to both teaching and learning in Malawi. It’s with your help that we can continue to send up to date and relevant information to schools and colleges like this one.


Children's Corner a MYSA Library

June Book of the Month

Our latest Book of the Month is the World Psychiatric Association’s Depression and Diabetes:

Depression and DiabetesIn the medical world there is a growing awareness of the interrelationship between depression and numerous physical diseases. Depression and Diabetes is the first in a three-part series which provides an update on current evidence of these interrelationships.

It brings together current evidence, including previously unpublished data, in a concise, easy to read format. It addresses how these co-existing conditions can develop, their impact on quality of life, effective treatments and how the negative consequences of depression in diabetes could be avoided.

The book’s practical approach means it will be useful for all practitioners involved in treating these patients from diabetes specialists to general practitioners and mental health nurses.

Depression and Diabetes will soon be on its way to Zimbabwe along with over 2,000 other brand new medical books.

These books will be going to a wide range of hospitals, training colleges and universities in Zimbabwe and they will provide practitioners and students with up-to-date medical research and evidence to support high quality training and healthcare.

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

July Book of the Month

Our latest Book of the Month is:

Making Friends at Work
Making Friends at Work: Learning to Make Positive Choices in Social Situations for People with Autism by Saffron Gallup


This is an innovative practical guide written to help people with autism plan and prepare for social interactions in the work place and specifically to make friends.

Remember the ‘choose your own adventure’ books from when you were young? This book cleverly uses the same format to help the reader explore how different interactions with people might work out, providing a handy tool to think through conversations before they take place.


Book inside page


The reader is given a scenario (in the case of this book, wanting to make a new friend) and then at each page turn they are presented with different choices about how they respond. As they make their choices, they are led through the book and arrive at one of several endings, showing how different interactions or choices can play out.


The end


Some endings are positive and some less so and the book includes explanations of what might have gone wrong in certain scenarios. The ‘choose your own response’ style gives the reader the freedom to go back and try a different response to see how it changes the final outcome.

This book will be really useful for people with autism, their families and medical professionals working with them. In many countries where we work, there is little understanding of autism and books like this are invaluable in raising awareness as well as giving people with autism the tools they need to live full and happy lives.

Copies of this book will be really useful in public and community libraries as a resource for the general public. It’ll also be perfect for medical institutions such as the FAFA Medical Training College in Kenya and Malawi College of Health Science for staff to refer to as well as to give to patients and families of those diagnosed with autism.

Teaching the nurses of tomorrow

Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war severely affected the country’s healthcare. Much infrastructure was destroyed and many staff fled for their lives. Ebola then claimed the lives of 10% of the country’s healthcare workers.

Institutions like Nixon Memorial Hospital in eastern Sierra Leone and its nursing school were left struggling and threatened with closure. Yet the school once produced over 75% of nurses for the entire eastern region of the country – an area covering over 15,000 square kilometres with a population of over 1.5 million people.

Tutors like Solomon are passionate about raising up the next generation of healthcare professionals in Sierra Leone and is using books you help to send to support his vital work.


Our challenge was shortage of books. You cannot continue with archaic books that have been written 10 or 15 years ago – other developments have been found.

But I am very happy – last year Practical Tools Initiative (PTI) gave us books from Book Aid International. Now we have up-to-date books – books on anatomy and physiology, books on surgery, midwifery, paediatrics, microbiology. You name them, we have them! Marvellous books. And we are really making good use of them.

Solomon reading
Solomon is using Mims’ Medical Microbiology to help him prepare his lectures

For the past week I have been reading the Mims’ Medical Microbiology which is my specialty. I love this book so much because it is up to date. It has really helped me to make my notes and to impart knowledge onto the students.

The books have given us a positive change.

They have opened the way for research. Now, if the students were to do research on a topic or any tropical disease, any operation or nursing care, then they can go in there [to the library] and study.


Reading in the library
Student pass rates have increased thanks to the donated books


Since we have started using these books, our results have really improved. Two years ago, some of our students did not achieve the minimum overall pass mark.

But the group last year, because of the existence of this library and the Book Aid International books all 92 students passed their state final examinations.

And I am also hoping that come this November, the next group of students will also pass with flying colours.


Midwifery students
Solomon hopes that this year’s students will pass with flying colours


We are living in one the poorest [districts] in the country. There are many people living in the rural areas who have problems with disease, more than people who are living in urban areas. Yet urban areas are served with so many doctors and nurses whereas rural areas have few. Like in this hospital, we only have one doctor who works around the clock.

So the only way to help us is books.

Without books, you cannot learn. And if you don’t learn, you cannot help your community.


The books in the library are also used by medical staff in the adjoining Nixon Memorial Hospital


These books aren’t only for tutors and students, they are for everybody. The healthcare workers in the hospital that this school is attached to are using them too. Even the people who are training in Freetown, we tell them we have lots of books. So if they don’t have books, about particular surgery, they will come here and it will be an immense help for them.


On the ward
Donated books are enabling the nursing school to apply for accreditation to run a higher level nursing course


In the future, we are planning to run the higher course of state registered nursing and midwifery here. The books are one of the things that will allow us to do this – staff and students having access to a range of up-to-date information is one of the criteria that we have to meet to run a higher course.

We are very very thankful to Practical Tools Initiative for opening this link between us and Book Aid International so that more books will be brought to us, and hopefully we are going to do the higher course shortly.


We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.

Betty Balon

“We want to save more lives!”

In Sierra Leone, access to safe healthcare is not easy. Much of the country’s healthcare infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war in 1991-2002 and 10% of healthcare workers died during the Ebola crisis of 2014-16. Services are stretched and practitioners often do not have the tools or information they need. The impact on children and mothers is particularly devastating. Ten women die giving birth every day.

Midwife Betty and her colleagues at Nixon Memorial Hospital are using books you help to send to care for expectant mothers, teach them how to look after their new-borns and save more mothers’ lives. Here Betty tells us more.


Betty uses donated books to develop her knowledge.

Healthcare for mothers is so difficult. Awareness [among mothers] is low. When they are doing a lot of breast feeding, they should eat a lot. But some mothers don’t even drink water, except when they have food to eat. Some come to the hospital with bleeding or obstructed labour.

So I come to the library to know more – to read about general nursing, paediatrics, expectant mothers. The books help us a lot.

Maternity ward
Donated books are giving Betty and her colleagues the information they need to handle any challenges they face on the ward.

Before [we got the books], it was so difficult. We didn’t have more books or money to purchase them. So there was no wide knowledge. Because if you are not reading, you have no knowledge.

But with the help of these books from Book Aid International, we have wider knowledge of how to take care of pregnant mothers and their children.

I come to the library twice a week. I read Foundations of Nursing – it covers everything.

On the ward
Betty saved the lives of three mothers after reading about a procedure to stop bleeding in mothers who have just given birth.

I read about what to do when a woman [who has just given birth] is bleeding. The books taught me about a procedure called balloon tamponade. I remember one morning I applied it to a woman and it stopped the bleeding immediately. I then applied it to three mothers – all of them survived and so did their babies.

[The books] help me, they help Nixon, they help the community at large.

Doing a ward round
Betty and her colleagues now want to expand their library so they can save more lives.

Now we have more awareness, we impart it into the communities. As we read here, we then go to them and explain everything and sensitise them that they should be coming to the hospital. This is the place of solving their problems.

Now we want to extend our library. We want to save more lives.

We would like to thank our partner Practical Tools Initiative who ensure the books you help to send reach the healthcare professionals, hospitals and medical training institutions that need them most.

Children's Corner a MYSA Library

July Book of the Month

Our Book of the Month for July is:


Colouring book
The Nurse’s Anatomy & Physiology Colouring Book donated by SAGE

What a great way to make learning fun! Developed for trainee nurses by Ulster University’s School of Nursing, this book provides students with an alternative way to go over their notes through colouring.

Heart diagram
Each section includes anatomy to colour and label


The book covers everything from key systems like the digestive system to the anatomy of cells and the stages of wound healing.

Each section opens with a simple introduction followed by organ diagrams for students to colour according to a code. For example in a diagram of the heart and its location in the body, the colouring notes ask the reader to colour the heart pink and the lungs purple.  Students are also asked to identify and label organ parts to further test their knowledge.


Osmosis diagram
The book covers all key areas of nursing


This is an innovative way for both practising and trainees nurses to keep their knowledge up to date and will be especially useful for visual learners. The wealth of clear and simple diagrams that this book contains makes it an incredibly useful reference tool. It will be very popular with tutors and students alike at the hospitals, universities and healthcare training colleges we support such as the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda and the Malawi College of Medicine.


Gaza Health Sciences Library

Supporting healthcare in Gaza

The Gaza Health Sciences Library in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the main medical library in the Gaza strip. Its books provide medical staff and students in Gaza with the vital information they need to deliver quality healthcare.

Border closures and air and sea blockades mean that Palestinians living in Gaza are unable to freely access other parts of the Palestinian Territories or the outside world. Blockades also mean that the import of goods such as books is limited. The books you help to send to this library are therefore a lifeline for the medical staff and students to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.

Here Mahmoud, Project Coordinator at the library tells us more about the difference the books you help to send are making to healthcare in Gaza.


A lady studing
The Gaza Health Sciences Library provides medical practitioners with a range of services


We have lived under blockade for more than 12 years. Our port is closed and we have three hours of electricity a day.

Our vision for the library is to be a modern library, like other libraries outside. So we try to develop our services and offer services like books, journals, online subscriptions but the blockade prevents us from keeping the books in the library updated.

We have been supported by Book Aid International for three years and since then we have seen an increase in the use of the library. Our doctors can’t go out so these books keep them updated like other doctors in the world. Without the books from Book Aid International, all the books in the library would be more than fifteen years old.


Man studying
The brand new books you help to send enable medical practitioners to keep their knowledge up-to-date


The books you help to send users – new books in more than 48 different subjects in health – offer a big help to our users. They give them windows they can look through to keep them updated with new information and help them improve their knowledge more and more.

My hopes for the future are to develop the health sector in various ways and also for people in Gaza to have freedom.