Help Ekwendeni Hospital

** For June 2013 my husband Kevin and I will be working with Ekwendeni Hospital in Malawi, Africa to raise funds for patients unable to afford treatment. We are personally funding this trip, so all donations directly support the hospital. Please read below for more details. ***
** UPDATE 2013-06-09: Given the overwhelming response, we've decided to change our fund distribution strategy from a lump sum to installments. We chose to do this to increase transparency and interaction with the hospital, and enable donors to have detailed information about the appropriation of their donation. For more information, see "About your donation" below. **

Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues,

Imagine a building with a sign "Hospital" over the entrance. However, inside there are no ventilators, defibrillators, ECG machines or cardiac monitors. The only lab tests available are to look for HIV, malaria and anemia, and the X-ray machine is functional less than half of the time. For the most part, diagnoses are made by clinical examination, followed by an educated guess. Coming to the hospital is often a last resort because patients will struggle to pay the typical bill of less than $1USD for an outpatient visit and prescription. This is not 19th century America or Britain. Unfortunately, this is 2013 in Ekwendeni, Malawi, Africa.

The good news is that you can help. Ekwendeni Hospital offers surgeries and consultations to improve lives permanently. As one example, it costs only $26USD to repair debilitating trauma from childbirth, which is unattainable for the average woman who makes less than a dollar a day.

In many cases, lack of money is the only reason why someone in Ekwendeni can't obtain medical care to improve their quality of life. Reproductive health care and HIV management is partially subsidized by the Malawian government, but many other treatments are unattainable due to financial limitations. There is a fund at Ekwendeni Hospital to cover the cost of treatments for patients who cannot afford them and our goal is to replenish this fund. As a few examples, the fund subsidizes the following procedures:

-- Hysterectomy: $37USD (to treat cancer or relieve continuous heavy bleeding)
-- Repair of fistula (channel) between vagina and bladder: $26USD
-- Surgery to repair a fracture: $16USD
-- Cervical procedure to treat cancer: $10USD
-- Optometry visit for glasses: $3USD

I am currently in Malawi, working at Ekwendeni Hospital throughout June 2013. During this visit I am providing an extra pair of hands on the wards, teaching the clinical staff (there is only one Malawian doctor), and working with another foreign doctor on a project to set up a chronic disease clinic.

Please consider making a donation to Ekwendeni's hospital fund. My time in Ekwendeni is only temporary, but your contribution can permanently end an individual's chronic suffering.

Susannah (with support of husband Kevin Dyer)

About your donation: Donations to Ekwendeni Hospital are unfortunately not tax deductible. However, 100% of your donation (minus the 5% gofundme fee) will be used to cover patient charges such as those listed above. To receive the funds, the hospital will be required to submit an itemized list of procedures performed for financially-needy patients. These lists will be audited by Kevin and Susannah. The balance of the fund, disbursements to the hospital and an anonymized list of procedures supported by the fund will be made available on a website accessible by all donors.

About Malawi: Malawi is a small, impoverished country of 15 million people in sub-saharan Africa. As of 2012, according to the CIA, Malawi is roughly the tenth poorest country in the world. Malawi has an annual per capita GDP of $900, compared to $49,800 in the United States. In the last few years, inflation has increased by more than 300%, without a proportionate increase in wages. On a positive note, there has been progress and hope. Campaigns to increase awareness of HIV and medications has lowered the prevalence of HIV from around 14% in 2004 to 10% in 2013.

About Ekwendeni Hospital: Ekwendeni Hospital is a 250 bed hospital in the north of Malawi. Staff wages are funded by the Malawian Government. Medicines are partially subsidized by the Malawian Government and Presbyterian Church, but they frequently run out. There are inpatient adult and pediatric wards, a small operating room, birthing centre and mother-baby unit. There are frequent power-cuts and an unreliable water supply. Since my last visit in 2005, little has changed in Ekwendeni --- except there are fewer patients. We surmise this is due to inflation, which has increased the prices of drugs and procedures, without an increase in local wages. The majority of care is focussed on treating patients when they get sick, but visiting doctors and NGOs are working on long term projects to improve preventive health care and care of chronic disease.

About Me: I hold an MBBS (equivalent of MD) from University College London and am a member of the Royal College General Practitioners. I am currently a second-year Family Medicine resident at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, Oregon, USA. This is my second visit to Ekwendeni and it holds a special place in my heart because it is where I met my husband, Kevin, in 2005.

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Susannah Daniel 
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