Transforming lives in southern Africa

27 May 2016

Professor Colin Riordan with VC of University of Namibia
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia (UNAM) Professor Lazarus Hangula with Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan

Expertise provided by Cardiff University should help transform medical practice across southern Africa, according to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia (UNAM).

Professor Lazarus Hangula was speaking on a visit to Cardiff this week in which he met Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan, other senior University staff and key civil servants.

Cardiff University’s ambitious Phoenix Project has teamed up with the University of Namibia (UNAM) for a broad range of activities involving health, education and science.

One part of the project involves using Welsh expertise in collaboration with UNAM and the Namibian health service to provide the country's first specialist anaesthesia training.

Namibian anaesthetists

Namibia has just a handful of specialist anaesthetists to cover a geographically vast country with a population of more than two million people.

The Phoenix Project has been organising intensive anaesthesia and critical care courses for students and doctors in several locations across Namibia.

Namibian anaesthetists 2

Plans are also being developed to create Namibia’s first ever postgraduate course in anaesthesia, which could revolutionise practice across the country – and the entire region.

Professor Hangula said: “This project brought us this opportunity and we hope that, together with our partners Cardiff University, we will be able to roll out this specific programme to other SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries.

“I think it will help a lot. If we train more of our medical officers that will be a big contribution to help in the SADC region.”

The project’s health work continues next month with a conference offering vital airway training for doctors and nurses from across southern Africa.

The Namibian Airway Management Experience conference, which runs from 7-9 June in the Namibian capital Windhoek, is the first to be held in the region outside South Africa.

The scope of the Phoenix Project goes far beyond health, and Professor Hangula pointed to some of the recent successful events Cardiff University and UNAM have run together.

A mathematics summer school at UNAM helped boost the skills of science students, while an international software conference in Namibia brought together a community of Python users, a hugely popular free programming language.

However there are other significant benefits for both universities that have particularly impressed Professor Hangula.

“I have learned with keen interest that Cardiff University is involved with more than 20 projects through the Phoenix Project, but more importantly there is the human-to-human contact,” he said.

“Despite our geographic differences we still have common humanity, that in a globalised world we need to discover.

“We hope we are going to go a long way to address specific problems but also to create a community of friends across the oceans and the continents.

“It is something truly great.”

The Phoenix Project is one of Cardiff University’s flagship engagement projects, otherwise known as the Transforming Communities programme, which work with communities in Cardiff, Wales and beyond in areas including health, education and wellbeing.