A Model for Care in South Africa

Last evening we had a most pleasant dinner with UNC’s colleagues in South Africa. Charlie van der Horst has built a large number of very substantial collaborations here over the past five years.

I visited at length with Professor Helen Laburn, the dean of the faculty of health sciences at Wits University, and with Dr. Melinda Wilson, the head of PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief) here in South Africa. She is a senior US Government official, a part of the US Agency for International Development.

PEPFAR has a rapidly growing series of programs that they fund here, the largest of which is Right to Care, the non-profit organization headed by Dr. Ian Sanne, Charlie’s principal collaborator here. Yesterday afternoon I toured the Right to Care offices and clinics, and I was very impressed with what they are doing. They now have more than 8,000 people receiving anti-retroviral therapy, with very careful evaluation, monitoring, follow-up and care — all with very sophisticated web-based data collection and analysis. This really is a model for what can be done, not just in South Africa, but around the world.

Clearly global health means UNC is helping to do important things at a distance, but as we help to innovate we learn — and that is of great benefit to us all, including North Carolinians.

Shortly today I leave for Blantyre, Malawi, where we have our most extensive work. More to come! Bill

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