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U.S. Doctors Create Pediatric AIDS Network in Malawi

In Malawi, where some 83,000 children are infected with HIV, a new program brings U.S. doctors to the East African country and encourages African doctors to set up practices in their hometowns, instead of leaving for more prosperous countries.

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  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO, NewsHour Correspondent:

    In Malawi, 1 out of every 4 children dies before reaching age 5. Famine is chronic, and AIDS has left tens of thousands of orphans often in the care of struggling grandparents, like Robin Nangwandu.

    Many children, like his grandson, McAnthony, are HIV-positive.

  • ROBIN NANGWANDU, Malawian Grandfather (through translator):

    I will continue working until I die. Don't have enough money to buy food stocks, just enough money to buy day-to-day. It's not easy to care for a kid who is HIV-positive, not easy to shuttle him back and forth to hospital.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    Until recently, there were just two pediatricians for the entire public health system. Dr. Peter Kazembe was one.

    How many children in this country, approximately, are HIV-positive?

  • DR. PETER KAZEMBE:

    Well, it's estimated at 83,000 children are HIV-positive.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    … 83,000 children, and to serve all of them, you had two pediatricians, essentially?

  • DR. PETER KAZEMBE:

    The two pediatricians, yes.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    He says many Malawian doctors have left for more prosperous countries, like neighboring Botswana, Britain, and the U.S.

  • DR. PETER KAZEMBE:

    The issues are the same in all the countries in southern Africa certainly, you know, with salaries, poor salaries, poor working conditions. There's nothing more frustrating than knowing what you need to do, but not having the resources to do it.

  • FRED DE SAM LAZARO:

    Dr. Kazembe was hired to lead one American effort to bring health care resources to Malawi. Its center is a modern, American-style clinic, complete with 11 young American doctors.

    Colorado native Chris Buck and colleagues came here soon after completing their residency. Each will spend at least one year rotating through this busy clinic and also in some Malawian public health facilities.

  • DOCTOR:

    Is he using his mosquito net every night?