By Kevin Whipps
While we spend our mornings waiting in line for a coffee, or complaining about the latest thing that happened on the news, a world away lives a country where almost 10 million people live on less than $1 a day. While we drive through our suburban neighborhoods, 85% of their population lives in rural villages. And out of the 13 million people in their country, at least 1 million are infected with HIV. In 2007, 2.1 million died from the disease.
It’s named Malawi, but it’s also known as “The warm heart of Africa,” and it’s a country that doesn’t get a ton of press around these parts, but it should. The average life expectancy of a male born today is just 51 years old, and 15.5% of all children under the age of five are underweight. The fact is, times are tough over there, and without the help of people in more fortunate situations, the country will continue to devolve.
In 2001, Dr. Perry Jansen and a small group began Partners in Hope (PIH). Their mission was to provide desperately needed medical care to the people of Malawi, and donate their services to help stop the spread of HIV in Africa. To start, the team went to Malawi and provided home based care as well as taught HIV prevention in local schools. In addition, they started providing antiretroviral medications (ARVs) to those in need, and the results were astounding. People who were expected to die got up out of bed and regained living their normal lives. It was amazing.
A few years later in 2005, PIH opened a new facility named the Partners in Hope Medical Center. Today, they see over 250 patients daily, and actively care for 6,000 HIV patients on the premises. What makes the space so amazing? Treatments and tools that we have access to as Americans are rare and hard to find in Malawi, but PIH brought in a state-of-the-art laboratory to diagnose both Tuberculosis and HIV patients. They have x-ray machines and ultrasound tools, rarely seen in Malawi. Today, PIH has 3,500 HIV patients in care, 2,600 patients on ARVs and 3,600 patients are seen each month.
This is an uphill struggle, for sure, but PIH has definitely made strides in the right direction. Today, over 100 peer educators have been trained, they’ve opened Tikambe Youth Center to offer “youth friendly” HIV testing and over 1,000 people are tested for HIV every month. They’ve even been expanding the clinic, with the “Thandizo” ward opening in 2010, and the “Moyo” clinic just completing expansion.
Partners in Hope is the sister clinic to Arizona Pain. We support the amazing work that Dr. Jansen and his crew perform, and we hope you do too. If you would like to donate to Partners in Hope, you can do so at their website: Partnersinmalawi.org/donations.php.