Thursday, December 30, 2010


Dr. Hawa Abdi, a physician and hospital administrator in Somalia is currently getting a lot of attention because she was recently named one of Glamour Magazine’s “Women of The Year,” (along with her two daughters, who are physicians as well) for 2010. Not only is Dr. Abdi a health care provider, but she also has created a camp for internally displaced peoples in Somalia on her own 1,300 acre farmland near the hospital. She has also created the The Dr.Hawa Abdi Foundation.

The mission of The Dr.Hawa Abdi Foundation is to ensure that no treatable condition shall ever be an obstacle to health. Through a combination of foundation programs and social activism, we will work to guarantee that quality healthcare is available to underserved populations in the Somali and around the East Africa. Furthermore, it is our goal to promote health and healing not only by providing quality medical and preventative care, but also by creating treatment environments that foster hope.

According to a brief biographical statement on one of the web pages, of the Foundation, Dr. Abdi is a “living hero.”

Dr.Hawa Abdi, a living hero before the eye of thousands of IDPs a mother, a leader of hope and prosparity,an inspiration and the couragious woman,the founder of the Dr.Hawa Abdi Foundation and the first woman to run and oparate a private hospital in somalia the first doctor and the list never end.

Abdi received her medical training in Kiev, Ukraine, during the 1960s with the help of a Soviet scholarship. At the time, Somalia was allied with the Soviet Union, while its archrival and neighbor Ethiopia was a partner of the United States. (In an abrupt Cold War reversal, a Marxist regime came to power in Ethiopia in 1974 and Somalian dictator Mohamed Siad Barre switched loyalties to the U.S.)

After completing her studies, Abdi returned and opened her clinic; soon the practice drew clients from all over the country, and even abroad. She was one of Somalia's first female gynecologists.

She married, raised three children, invested in hundreds of acres of farmland and had enough left over to purchase a beach getaway.

After Siad Barre was toppled in 1991 and Somalia descended into clan-based civil war, Abdi struggled to keep her clinic independent. One day, she says, soldiers with the HAWIYE clan swarmed the facility, looking to kill or capture patients from the DAROT clan.

"You will have to kill me first," she recalls telling the armed fighters. They left and never bothered her again. Abdi opened her private clinic for women and children in 1983. But when the government collapsed eight years later, she threw open her doors to all, treating victims of shootings, malnutrition and a string of epidemics.

As word of her generosity spread, the needy flocked here. More than 15,000 families currently live on her land. She offers treatment, clean water and whatever food she can spare. Nowadays, few can pay, but no one is turned away.

Abdi acknowledges that after 25 years, she dreams of escaping this place. "I'm tired," she says, sighing. "Sometimes you lose hope, you feel depressed. I've been here so long." [Bio here.]

More details about the Glamour Women of the Year Award can be found here.

On December 15, 2010, The New York Times ran an opinion piece by Nicholas D. Kristof that highlighted her work that took her from running a one room clinic in 1983 to managing a 400 bed hospital today. That article may be found at this link.


Sunday, December 19, 2010


Photo from SIC website

Dr. Matthew Craven had a vision. He earned his B.A. in Economics from Stanford University in 2001. That year he also got his first exposure to global health during a month he spent teaching HIV prevention seminars in Tanzania. While in Tanzania he witnessed the ineffectiveness of the existing healthcare delivery systems, especially to rural communities. He returned to Tanzania the following year and co-found Support for International Change (SIC), a non-profit organization working with the government to limit the impact of HIV in underserved communities through expanded access to education, testing, and treatment.

Dr. Craven also started SIC’s global health leadership training programs, which aims to develop a new generation of leaders for the field. He served as Executive Director of SIC for the next five years, first based in Tanzania and then in the U.S.

In 2008 Dr. Craven earned his M.D. from the Stanford University School of Medicine.


Their Mission
To limit the impact of HIV/AIDS in underserved communities and to train future leaders in global health and development.

Their Vision
SIC believes that the HIV/AIDS crisis creates both an imperative to act and an opportunity to learn. We envision a world where HIV/AIDS no longer limits length or quality of life or reduces the social or economic development of communities, and where young people learn the skills to address the health crises of future generations.

Their Approach
SIC was founded in August 2002 with the dual goals of limiting the impact of HIV/AIDS in Tanzania and training future leaders for global health and development. In the rural communities where we work, poor infrastructure and widespread poverty limit access to HIV testing and prevention services, and leave people living with HIV socially and physically isolated from care. Public clinics provide VCT and antiretroviral medications in urban centers, but lack of information, stigma and the costs of transportation all represent barriers to access and leave these services beyond the reach of Tanzania’s rural majority. As a result, HIV transmission continues, few people are tested in the villages and many of those living with AIDS die without accessing treatment.

In response to this crisis, SIC currently works in rural villages in northern Tanzania, offering a comprehensive set of community based services to combat HIV/AIDS. SIC supports a Community Health Worker (CHW) Program, a Peer Educators (PE) Program in secondary schools, community-based health awareness campaigns, and mobile Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT). With a few pilot programs, in conjunction with the district hospitals, we support mobile ARV clinics.

In addition to these community level interventions, SIC offers structured service-learning programs for international and Tanzanian volunteers. During our eight and twelve week programs, volunteers add capacity to our work, primarily by serving as teachers in our awareness campaigns. Hundreds of student volunteers have passed through our programs since 2003. Many have gone on to graduate or professional training in related fields, to found other organizations, or to other leadership positions in global health and development.