FBW Group is leading the design and technical team on a life-changing £9.5million project to deliver Malawi’s first specialist postgraduate medical training centre.

It is just one of a number of ground-breaking, high-profile medical developments FBW is currently working on in collaboration with major international organisations.

The practice has been delivering medical projects across East Africa since it was founded 25 years ago, including clinics and hospitals serving remote rural areas – developments that have made a real difference to people’s health and lives.

The new Clinical Research and Training Open Resource (Creator) in Malawi will provide the most sophisticated research environment in the country.

Technical designs are expected to be completed in October and then tendered, with site works anticipated to start early in the new year.

In the meantime, FBW will be providing technical oversight for the initial enabling works expected to start on site soon.

Creator is a partnership between the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine (CoM), Queen Elizabeth’s Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), the University of Liverpool and the medical research foundation Wellcome.

Malawi currently has around 600 clinical doctors to treat a population of 16 million. The new centre will meet a critical need for further training and research opportunities, helping to halt the ‘brain drain’ that sees doctors leave the country to progress their careers. Malawi has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world.

Wellcome has committed £1.9m to the project and LSTM and the University of Liverpool are providing £3m each. More fundraising is underway.

The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (MLW) currently provides training for the next generation of clinical researchers and supports research nurses and clinicians at the Queen Elizabeth Central hospital (QECH) in Blantyre. The new centre will be built in its grounds.

Over the last 25 years MLW has made notable scientific contribution in the management of malaria and HIV.  It says the Creator project will be “a step-change” in the scale of clinical research and a reversal of the norm of trainees leaving Malawi and the region to receive specialist education elsewhere.

Lindiwe Mafuleka, communications lead for MLW, said: “The increase in scale of research and number of researchers translates into increased contribution and progress in the improvement of health. This is of great importance for securing better health for the region and beyond.

“The project is a monumental step towards new levels of excellence for MLW. The building will accommodate a 30 per cent increase in research activity over the next 10 years.

“This will be combined, for the first time, with postgraduate specialist medical education by engaging with hospital academic departments and 140 or more postgraduate clinical and non-clinical research trainees.”

Meanwhile, construction work has been completed on the first phase of a $1m state-of-the-art research clinic in Entebbe, created by FBW.

The clinic is a joint project involving the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC), The Wellcome Trust, the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

LSHTM and MRC are involved in a range of research in East Africa, partnering to boost research capacity into some of the current and emerging health issues in the region and specifically in Uganda.  LSHTM is now at the forefront of the global effort to combat Covid-19. MRC and UVRI are also involved in the fight against the virus in the region.

The Entebbe clinic, which will offer international research facilities, has been constructed using local available and sourced materials, with natural ventilation, created as part of the FBW design, and a landscaped setting.

FBW is also currently working to help deliver a ground-breaking women’s health project in Kigutu in Burundi.

Medical projects have been a cornerstone of FBW’s work for the past quarter of a century. FBW also has a strong track record in supporting organisations delivering international standards in East Africa.

Stuart Harley, FBW’s chief operating officer, said: “We have built strong links with the healthcare sector from our very earliest days and we’re proud of the portfolio of clinics, hospitals and research facilities that have benefited people in so many ways.

“The projects we are currently involved in, including Creator, are truly life-changing. We strive to provide practical solutions, respond to the local conditions and at the same time create healthy environments for patients.”