Visiting UNC’s Project in Malawi, Part 1

Greetings from the UNC Project at the Tidziwe Center in Lilongwe, Malawi.

This morning I and others from the UNC Project had a meeting with the Minister of Health for Malawi, the Hon. Marjorie Ngaunje. She is a member of Parliament, and has relatively recently come to this cabinet position. We talked about the UNC work here, and the partnership we have in research, care and training.

These governmental relationships are very important, as they can either greatly aid the work here, or make it very difficult. She pledged her efforts to work smoothly together.

I am about to get a tour of the UNC Project facilities, and also of Kamuzu Central Hospital, the 1000-bed referral hospital that serves this part of the country.

Yesterday afternoon, Will and Jessica volunteered at the Ministry of Hope Orphanage, which cares for AIDS orphans. They were working with about 15 very young children, and helped feed, clean and care for them. They said it was real work, but that they enjoyed it.

Last evening we had a dinner with the leaders of the UNC Project, and about eight UNC students, from the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health — very enthusiastic and hardworking. They now have a guest house to stay in nearby, built a few months ago by a generous UNC donor.

This entire trip is a great experience for me. I am learning a lot — and will want to continue this work when I return to Chapel Hill. As I have said, global health is just as relevant there, to the people of North Carolina, as it is in Malawi. For example, on of the key studies we are doing here is developing new ways to diagnose acute HIV infection, even before the commonly used lab test turns positive. This will have major implications for the diagnosis of HIV in the US.

Several readers have asked that I include photos on the blog.

I brought along a digital camera, which is working fine. Unfortunately, my computer is on the blink, and so I cannot link and email the pictures.

I will post them when I return from the trip, don’t worry.

More later. Bill

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