Earlier today, I had the privilege of meeting His Excellency President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi. President Chakwera is in London this week for the Global Education Summit and joined members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Malawi for a discussion about issues of common concern.
During the meeting, I was able to praise and reaffirm the many civic links between Scotland and Malawi and, in particular, the strong connection with Malawi and my alma matter, Bannerman High School in Baillieston.
President Chakwera has an exciting and ambitious vision for Malawi and it was excellent to be able to discuss the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow, which he’ll be attending, and to hear what an ambitious “Glasgow agreement” might look like from the perspective of a developing country.
Of course, both of our countries have been enormously impacted by the Covid-19 global pandemic and it was right that a significant proportion of the meeting focussed on vaccination and the role of COVAX because we all recognise that no-one is safe until everyone is safe.
Despite international development being a reserved issue, I’m incredibly proud that a grant of more than £270,000 from the Scottish Government’s International Development Fund will fund the supply of 300 items of vital equipment to treat Covid-19 patients in Africa.
The funding will allow Kids Operating Room, a Scottish-based global health charity, to distribute 100 oxygen concentrators each to Malawi as well as Rwanda, and Zambia where cases are on the rise.
One of the biggest impacts of the rise in Covid-19 cases is a shortage of oxygen, and oxygen concentrators are easy to use, are suitable for patients of all ages, and can be used throughout the health service so I’m pleased to see Scotland continuing to play its part in supporting Malawi and very much look forward to our relationship going from strength to strength.