In Africa’s battle against AIDS, a key player hits a crossroads

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In the center of Kayesa, a sun-drenched village in central Malawi, stands the empty shell of a public health clinic.

Its red brick walls are gap-toothed and end abruptly at window height, where construction stopped when the village chief ran out of money last year. Goats wander lazily through the half-completed structure, picking at fruit peels on the dirt floor.

But only about 100 yards away, villagers wait patiently in a long line to visit with a doctor at Kayesa’s Catholic church, St. Mary’s. Inside the squat one-room brick building, a team of Slovenian doctors and medical students who visit the village twice a month briskly dole out antibiotics, wound dressings, and advice on HIV treatment. Boxes of their supplies lie sprawled across the altar.

Across much of sub-Saharan Africa, this is a familiar scene. In a region that is home to both many of the world’s poorest states and its sickest, countries have long turned to private healthcare providers — many of them faith-based — to fill the gaps in their coverage. Indeed, five decades after Malawi’s independence, churches are still responsible for 40 percent of all healthcare provision in this sliver of southeastern Africa, and 80 percent in so-called “hard to staff” areas, according to the US State Department.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor (link opens in a new window)

Health Care