Public health students raise thousands for Swaziland projects
S. Eric Anderson, PhD, MBA (right), shakes hands with Dr. Jun Negre during the grand opening. Dr. Negre will lead the medical staff at the Swaziland clinic.
During their first spring break trip to Swaziland in 2005, LLU students, faculty, and other group members dreamed of building an HIV clinic. This year during their second spring break trip, the students celebrated the grand opening of just such a clinic—one for which they had raised thousands of dollars.
It was after working on projects in both Lesotho and Swaziland last year that students from the School of Public Health (SPH) became inspired. So they spent the next year fundraising for the clinic and other community development projects, generating about $35,000 total to help the people of Swaziland. External supporters contributed another $15,000, bringing the total worth of the projects to $50,000.
For this year’s return trip, more than 30 SPH faculty members, students, LLU alumni and employees, and a few community members took the journey.
Their visit made the news on two television stations, a radio station, and two of the largest newspapers in the country.
SPH and external partners raised $24,000 to build the HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) clinic in Manzini, the commercial center for Swaziland. The country has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world.
The grand opening for the VCT clinic was held on March 19 at 10:00 a.m.
It quickly became an operational clinic. Since there were many Loma Linda University trained nurses, physicians, and dentists on the trip, they provided free medical, dental, and eye care to nearly 250 pat
Stewart Albertson, JD, LLM, assistant professor of health administration, School of Public Health, doubles as auctioneer at the School of Public Health awards banquet June 10, during which African artifacts brought back from the spring break trip were sold, raising more than $4,000 for next year’s mission projects in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.
ients a day during their stay, temporarily transforming the VCT into a primary care clinic.
Once the team left, the staff of the VCT turned to its primary function: counseling and testing.
“A great advantage of this type of project is the assurance of continuity once it is established,” says S. Eric Anderson, PhD, MBA, associate professor, department of health administration, SPH, and a key player in the Swaziland projects.
Men and women, both adults and youngsters, come to the VCT and pay a reasonable fee to cover basic expenses for the operation of the clinic. Additionally, there will be provision for the indigent.
Located in busy downtown Manzini near the bus station, the VCT provides the following services:
• Free information about HIV and AIDS;
• Confidential, personalized counseling performed by trained personnel;
• Rapid HIV testing;
• Distribution of HIV/AIDS literature;
• Short-term and long-term counseling, depending on a person’s HIV status;
• Planning for direct assistance (home-based care and other needs); and
• Training for the implementation of similar centers in other parts of the country.
The VCT clinic is just one portion of the projects LLU accomplished in Swaziland. An HIV/AIDS conference on March 21 provided another key method of outreach. SPH students organized the conference and raised more than $5,000 to pay for it.
Hundreds of people attended the conference. It provided an overview of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and explained the roles of both the Seventh-day Adventist Church and nongovernment organizations in Swaziland’s AIDS epidemic.
Furthermore, HIV-infected individuals provided personal testimonies about their experiences being labeled as infected and how they disclosed their status to others.
LLU students and external partners also raised nearly $20,000 to assist two Swazi orphanages in building additional facilities.
School of Public Health students and faculty have already begun to plan for next year’s spring break outreach, slated for three locations: Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Most of the people who went on the trip brought back African artifacts, which were auctioned June 10 during the School of Public Health awards banquet, raising more than $4,000 for next year’s projects.
Many LLU students, faculty, and alumni made the University’s outreach in Swaziland possible.
SPH student Michael Mashni oversaw most of the fundraising.
Fellow student Melissa Sykes was the AIDS conference director and worked closely with Condessa Curley, MD, MPH, MBA, president of Project Africa; the AIDS ministry program of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Brad Jamison, PhD, MA, MPH, assistant professor, department of health administration, provided leadership on a geographic information systems project.
Liz Damoff, MD, an LLU School of Medicine alumna, provided medical kits and supplies, and Chris Swisher, DDS, a School of Dentistry alumnus, distributed dental kits. Public health students Tammy Young and Steve Nelson put together AIDS kits.
By Heather Reifsnyder