£9.5m medical training centre plan is a game-changer in Malawi’s medical future

A team of architects and engineers from the North West are working on a
life-changing £9.5million project to deliver Malawi’s first specialist
postgraduate medical training centre.

Leading structural engineering specialist TRP Consulting and
architecture practice Cassidy + Ashton are working on
the initial design stages for the centre, which will also provide the
most sophisticated research environment in the African country.

East African-based multi-disciplinary consultancy FBW Group, which also
has strong links to the North West, is also involved in the project and
is undertaking enabling surveys on the proposed site of the facility in
the southern city of Blantyre.

The Clinical Research and Training Open Resource (Creator) project 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 people. 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.

The Creator building will host state-of-the-art laboratories, flexible
learning spaces and simulation rooms. Recording and live-stream
capabilities will enable interaction with global health leaders across
the world.

It will accommodate an expected 30 per cent rise in clinical research
activity and postgraduate specialist clinical medical education over the
next 10 years.

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

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

Professor Stephen Gordon, Director of MLW, said: “We have been planning
the Creator for more than three years as a partnership between QECH, CoM
and partners in the UK. It will be a game-changer for medicine and
science in Malawi.”

And LSTM’s director Professor David Lalloo said: “The need for the
Creator building reflects the rapid growth and quality of Malawian
medical science and LSTM is delighted to be a partner in a project that
will help deliver even greater success.”

TRP Consulting, which is based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and has an office in Preston, is working on the structural development of the project.

Its structural engineers have a strong track record of delivery on large
and complex building works and have widespread expertise in sectors
ranging from health to sports stadia development.

Director Geoff Wilks said: “We’re delighted to be part of the team that
is working to deliver this ground-breaking and vitally important project
that will help address the many emerging health threats facing Malawi.”

The architectural team from the Preston office of Cassidy + Ashton is
creating the initial designs for Creator.

Chris Taylor, director at Cassidy + Ashton and lead architect on the
Creator building, said: “Working on this project has been both
inspirational and challenging.

“From initially visiting the site in Malawi and understanding the
complexities of the location and the end-users objectives, our strategy
is to develop the design in the UK and then handover the project to a
local multi-disciplinary practice, FBW, to convert the building to local

“This will involve careful consideration of materials, given the remote
location, and consideration to the deprived area with its lack of
skilled labour.

“The Creator building aims to become a meeting place of like-minded
professionals in clinical research and training and I look forward to
returning to the region to oversee the project management through to

Leading East African planning, design, architecture and engineering team
FBW Group will provide its expertise on the ground, taking on project
management as the building develops.

It is the latest in a series of life-changing medical projects that the
practice has helped deliver in Africa since its creation in 1994,
including a number of clinics and hospitals serving remote rural areas.

A cornerstone of its work is the development and reconstruction of urban
and rural hospitals, providing practical solutions, responding to the
local conditions and at the same time creating healthy environments for

FBW also has a strong track record in supporting British-based
organisations to deliver international standards in East Africa. It has
operations in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania and strong roots in the
North West.

Architect Paul Moores, from Manchester, is managing director and FBW’s
chief operational officer, director of engineering and Kenyan office
head are all originally from Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Paul, who is based in Kampala, Uganda, said: “This is an exciting and
ground-breaking project to be involved in Creator is an asset that will
make a real difference to people’s lives in Malawi.

“FBW has built strong links with the healthcare sector in the region
since we began working here in 1994 and this is the latest in a
portfolio of clinics, hospitals and research facilities that have
benefitted people in so many ways.”

LSTM Estates Department is overseeing and supervising the project in
conjunction with MLW.