Fighting Lifestyle Diseases: Meet Medic to Medic Student Winter Sozinyo

As you can see, my education hasn’t been straight forward. It is one step at a time until I reach my goal and no doubt, I will reach it. When I look back where I have come from, the struggles encountered in my education strides, I don’t doubt that God is with me and that he has a special purpose in my life.

Winter is studying to be a medical doctor after several years working as a clinical officer. He was the first in his family to attend even secondary school, which was a breakthrough for his family and entire village. He now has a passion to reverse lifestyle diseases in Malawi, like high blood pressure and diabetes, through holistic approaches which emphasise nutrition. He even hosts a successful weekly radio programme on the topic.

Meet Winter

I stayed four years at home after secondary education, I didn’t know what course to study. In 2009 I was employed by Mua mission hospital as a hospital attendant with a hope that they would send me to school to study medicine. I worked faithfully in a radiology department but the hospital had no money to send me to school. 

It was during these years that I developed interest in medicine which indeed materialized when I was picked to pursue a diploma course in clinical medicine under government sponsorship in 2010 to become a clinical officer. I opted for this course because it was not too long studying. I had my young brothers approaching secondary school who needed my help so I wanted to start earning money in short time. 

What’s a Clinical Officer?

Because doctors here are few, with a ratio of 1: 88,000, the work of a clinical officer is so huge and nice in that it gives you hands on practical experience in different fields like paediatrics, internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology and many more. Although clinical officers work under the supervision of doctors, they are the back bone of health service delivery in Malawi. We do a great job, but we are not appreciated or recognized. 

Clinical officers are mainly found in poor countries of Africa because it’s a caliber that was designed to meet local demand because medical doctors are expensive to train and time consuming.

Inspiring Books and a Radio Programme

I loved the clinical officer course, and, the experience gained was so wonderful. It was very interesting learning about the human body and how to fix common problems. 

I started realizing my potential in 2016 when I came across books talking about reversing high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney stones, obesity, arthritis, and other non-communicable diseases through a holistic approach emphasising proper nutrition. I read all the books related to this field and I got an impression that I can be part of a solution to the Malawi nation.

Malawi is on a demographic transition where we are seeing more non communicable diseases than infectious diseases yet we don’t have specialists who can effectively help these patients. 

Because the articles were scientifically sound, people loved them to the extent that I was featured on a national radio to educate Malawians how to effectively treat or reverse these diseases.

The books challenged me that all non-communicable diseases are reversible provided we follow a comprehensive approach. Goodbye Diabetes (Dr. Wes Youngberg) was one of the books that changed my mindset. I love this book so much. Soon I began writing articles sharing the techniques I got from these books on curative and preventive lifestyle approach to non-communicable diseases. 

Because the articles were scientifically sound, people loved them to the extent that I was featured on a national radio to educate Malawians how to effectively treat or reverse these diseases. From 2017, I always have a radio talk every Wednesday 9:00 am each week until now. I work as a volunteer teaching people in churches, organizations and schools. I love these vocations. One of my famous talks are the ones talking about dietary fibers, diabetes, immunology and biological clocks. People love them.

Winter (centre) and his wife Tarles with family

This experience created a hunger in me for further education so that I can assist people efficiently because I had won people’s confidence yet I have low education status. I felt I needed to know more about medicine and if possible, specialise in lifestyle medicine, clinical nutrition, internal medicine or any related field to understand well the science of reversing diabetes and other diseases so I can assist well my fellow Malawians well. 

I also developed an interest of writing books in a Malawian context addressing these principles. I hope to start writing the book soon after finishing my school. Because jobs are scarce in government hospitals these days, we are planning to open a proper private clinic in future offering specialized lifestyle services tailor made for Malawian non-communicable diseases.

Clinical officers in Malawi do not have a chance to specialize in a specific field. The basic requirement for specialist fields is an MBBS degree that medical doctors possess.

Clinical officers do huge work but our salaries are very low. I have a huge responsibility looking after my extended family and relatives. I am responsible for their education, food and clothing. So, in addition to the above aspirations, having a medical degree can give me an advantage of earning more money to be able to meet my responsibilities.

These are prominent reasons that made me opt to change from a clinical officer to be a medical doctor in training. As you can see, my education hasn’t been straight forward. It is one step at a time until I reach my goal and no doubt, I will reach it. When I look back where I have come from, the struggles encountered in my education strides I don’t doubt that God is with me and that he has a special purpose in my life.

Winter’s wife Tarles and their two young children

To find out more about Medic to Medic or about how you can sponsor students like Winter visit our website at www.medictomedic.org

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