Zambia has a population of 16 million people and until recently did not have a single locally-trained, full-time neurologist - despite there being a need for every aspect of neurology.

But that is about to change, thanks to The Neurology Training Program which began in October 2018, with its first five students and which the Encephalitis Society is proud to be supporting.

We spoke to Nfwama Kawatu-Mulenga about her experiences so far.

(Read the Q&A with trainee Stanley Zimba) 

Nfwama Kawatu-Mulenga completed her training as a paediatrician in June 2018. She is currently working as senior registrar at the Children's Hospital in Lusaka and is a paediatric neurology resident.

Tell me a little bit about who you are and things you enjoy doing

I am a wife, a mum to two beautiful children, a daughter and a paediatrician who loves my job. I also have a passion for gardening when not playing my daily roles as a mum.

How did you become interested in neurology?

I worked with a remarkable warm-hearted paediatric neurologist Dr Ciccone, who was in Zambia at the hospital. She inspired me through her passion for work and compassion for the children with neurological problems.

How did you learn or hear about this neurology training?

The program was talked about by 2 neurologists working in Zambia currently - Professor Atadzhanov and Dr Siddiqi when they visited the children’s Hospital a couple of years back.

How have you found your training so far?

One word, AMAZING!

What has surprised you or impressed you the most about your training so far?

I have been impressed by the great commitment that the coordinators of the program and the doctors that fly in to teach have shown.

Why is there a need for neurologists in Zambia?

The need for neurologists in Zambia is unmeasurable. I have the sense that the disease burden of neurological disease is immense. There are a lot of paediatric patients that have conditions like epilepsy or stroke that do not get the appropriate treatment due to a lack of access to a neurologist.

Do you think your learning to date has made any difference for patients?

To some extent yes, I think it has.

What difference or impact do you think this training will have for patients with neurological conditions in Zambia?

The majority will have a correct and timely diagnosis and therefore correct and timely treatment plans. Hopefully my training will also impact on nationwide policies such as those that concern the welfare of the child with neurological problems.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope that more and more students will be interested to join the training, so as to build the “neurology family”.

Is there anything else you would like us to know?

This is a wonderful experience, and I am optimistic for the future of neurology in Zambia.