This area focuses on improving communication and coordination between MLW and the community. This is designed to help the community to have a better understanding of MLW activities and its value and contribution to society. It also encourages community consultation and feeding into the research agenda of MLW. We strive to build relationships with influential members of the community, community-based organizations, non governmental organizations, private sector organizations and other institutions (e.g. schools). Our researchers and staff are also encouraged to engagement with the community as much as possible. Two of our most popular activities that we have successfully been running are Science Café’s and Community Advisory Groups. The department has also recently been awarded an International Public Engagement Award by the Wellcome Trust to Establish an Exhibition Project.
Press/Media Relations (MLW – Media)
MLW views press as one of the most important channels available to convey its objectives to the general public and other stakeholders; and in the last two years we have developed strong links with the local community as well as the international media. In this area, MLW finds ways of helping scientists and the media to be able to cooperate more effectively and efficiently. We intend to explore ways of communicating our activities in a way that would be attractive to the press/media. In this regard, MLW can also play a role in helping to develop science journalism in Malawi. Therefore from time to time the media feature our researchers in their news and other programmes. Currently we are in the process of making plans to introduce a radio programme which will bring together our researchers, the public and the media to engage in different medical research issues.
At MLW we believe that all our staff are our ambassadors and we need to find ways to engaging the science staff with the operational staff so that everyone is up to date about the work that we do and can easily answer basic questions about us when approached in their social settings. We have therefore introduced Staff Forums to encourage information sharing among staff especially scientists and non-scientists.
Stakeholder/ Policy engagement
MLW is an affiliate of the College of Medicine. As such in stakeholder/policy engagement, MLW will cooperate with COM to help stimulate dialogue between researchers, policy makers and other key stakeholders. MLW also aims to identify opportunities for feeding research findings directly into policy and practice. Together with COM, MLW is now planning to create a forum that will allow this to happen by 2011.