Ophthalmologist travels to Zambia to help those in need

June 1, 2005

As physicians, my wife and I spent 2 weeks in Zambia with a group of 20 other professionals from the United States and United Kingdom. The expertise included banking, foundation management, real estate development, teaching, communications, and medicine.

The group went as Friends of Zambia, a non-profit organization. The mission of Friends of Zambia is to create interest in, understanding of, and investment with the people of Zambia.

The country is challenged by high unemployment, with only 300,000 taxpayers, plus nearly 70% of the population of Zambia is in poverty.

Perhaps most devastating is the HIV infection rate of Zambian population, at 16%. A young male has a 60% chance of dying of AIDS. Nearly every family in Zambia has a member infected with HIV/AIDS, leaving nearly 500,000 children as orphans.

Last year the UTH program administered 16,000 anti-retroviral (ARV) drug doses. These were mostly generic varieties from India. Although this program would like to deliver 100,000 doses next year, a shortage in supply will disappoint expectations.