Emmanuel Banda is one of many Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) medical officers with five+ years of training with Department of Radiology faculty and residents who’ve traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi, as UNC Radiology Malawi Program participants.  In March 2015, Banda learned pediatric, musculoskeletal and breast imaging, among other subspecialty areas, under the instruction of a Department team that included former Assistant Professor of Radiology Dr. Brett Murdock.

“The first time I met Emmanuel, he was working with the [UNC Malawi] Pediatric team, but he would come every day after finishing his many duties, just so he could learn and work within the Radiology department. His passion for radiology and drive for self-betterment were undeniable. Aside from his ample skill, Emmanuel’s genuine, kindhearted nature would instill in anyone an intense urge to want to see this young man succeed. His character and ingenuity are infectious, and I have no doubt he will be a great future leader in Malawi, and the field of radiology as a whole. Emmanuel is a great friend, and a tremendous rising talent in radiology. There are many great trainees working at [KCH], but Emmanuel stood out as a strong candidate to sponsor for Radiology residency training,” Dr. Murdock recalled.

Dr. Emmanuel Banda

Dr. Sheri Jordan also had the opportunity to teach and work alongside Banda at KCH. She noted: “Dr. Banda is a most impressive young professional, committed to his education, and to all patients and their families. It was a genuine privilege to meet him in person in 2017, and to see him, as was expected, excel in 2019.”

Banda noted: “Interacting with visiting RAD-AID and UNC radiology teams was an extra inspiration for me personally, as I got to see how much more radiology can offer, from research to interventions.”

For an exceptional learner like Banda, one of UNC Radiology Malawi program’s long-term bilateral goal initiatives — increasing onsite radiologist support trained for KCH’s one attending radiologist – has opened a door. With no training pathway available in Malawi to become a full-fledged radiologist, Banda is the first KCH medical officer selected for sponsored diagnostic radiology training in an established residency program in a neighboring country.

Banda (L) with Stellenbosch consultant radiologist learning imaging anatomy. Banda: “Sessions like these that make me grateful to be a part of such an excellent program.”

Banda began his five-year residency at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, in July 2018. Several UNC Department of Radiology faculty and donors from RAD-AID International, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports global health radiology initiatives, have entered a global health grant agreement to cover his tuition fees. Since its 2012 inception, the UNC Radiology Malawi program has conducted its work in Lilongwe through partnering with RAD-AID Malawi, one of RAD-AID International’s country programs that brings radiology expertise and imaging technology to Malawi.

Once he completes his five-year training, Dr. Banda will return to Lilongwe and begin practicing under the mentorship of KCH’s long-time radiologist and teaching medical officers. As KCH’s second onsite radiologist, Banda wants an instrumental role in establishing an accredited future diagnostic radiology residency program in Malawi. Following the model of Stellenbosch’s residency program, he sees evidence-based training emphasizing diagnostics as pivotal to clinical practice.

“As we grow in radiology practice in Malawi, research will shape how we teach our medical officers to ascertain trends and clinical presentations of various disease conditions. Through using radiological-descriptive data, we can improve our efficiency and accuracy.”

“My focus is to learn the profession until it becomes my second language. The passion for my career comes with the passion to serve my country. Any service opportunity where I can improve the much needed quality of care for my nation is an inspiration. Sponsoring diagnostic radiology training is a high capital investment in our nation’s healthcare, and commitment from private/public trusts is one way to ensure its progress and improvement Thank you [to my UNC sponsors] for believing in me.  Each of my mentoring sessions with Stellenbosch’s dedicated and patient radiology faculty make me grateful to be a part of such an excellent program.”

Several Department of Radiology and Division of Radiologic Science faculty integral to the mission of the UNC Radiology Malawi program are hopeful others from KCH will follow in Banda’s footsteps. If investing in residency training for KCH’s first medical officer proves successful, the program’s future sponsorship of qualified medical officers will sustain its mission of growing radiology support at KCH, as well as in-country access to quality imaging care.

Melissa Culp, M.Ed, RT(R)(MR), Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of RAD-AID International and Assistant Professor in the UNC Division of Radiologic Science, noted: “This initiative is another example of the UNC Department of Radiology’s commitment to global health with an eye toward sustainability and human capacity development [education]. The vision promotes improvement for Malawi, and it is an investment in the UNC Department of Radiology’s own trainees that demonstrates a continued track record of excellence in education.”