Meet new PhD student André Thunberg and his research on management of severe paediatric illness in Malawi
In March 2022, André Thunberg had his ISP seminar at the Department of Global Public Health. His research focuses on the prevalence and management of severe paediatric illness in Malawi. Besides his doctoral studies, André also works at Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital as a resident doctor.
What is your research about and what brought you to paediatrics?
"My doctoral project concerns the prevalence and management of severe pediatric illness in Malawi. We are studying the prevalence of risk factors for mortality among children in a rural outpatient setting and if current guidelines are able to identify severely ill children. Furthermore, we investigate the routines around referral and pre-referral treatment of these children. Also, caregivers are interviewed to understand the process around care-seeking and completion of referral.", says André.
"The fact that a child in Malawi is 15 times more likely to die before its fifth birthday than my own children or the children I meet during my clinical work in Sweden makes this research interesting and important to me. Most of these deaths are preventable, which tells us that it is possible to reduce this increased risk".
What are you currently working on in your project?
"Right now I’m working on a qualitative study by going through interviews with caregivers that were referred from a health center to a hospital because of the condition of their child. Some completed referrals and some did not. We are trying to understand the process and obstacles around seeking care and completing referrals".
How is it to combine research with clincial work?
"Most of the time it’s just positive. I like the variation between clinical work and research, especially since the two in many ways link together. Although the context and conditions are very different, many of the diagnoses are the same. Working clinically with severely ill children gives another dimension to the research, I think".
"My weeks of research also gives me a bit more flexibility and control of my own time. I can pick my kids up, without leaving extra work for colleagues, spend time with them and then continue the work when they are sleeping".
"The problem with combining the two is when you sometimes have to work on both at the same time. For example, a deadline for submitting at the same time I have a busy clinical schedule or a doctoral course at the same time I have an important rotation. It requires some flexibility and compromises, but as I said, most of the time it’s just positive with the combination".