With a crushing HIV/AIDS epidemic and high rates of infant and maternal mortality, Malawi is one of Africa’s poorest and most densely populated countries.

In 2007, PIH/Malawi—Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU)—began working in partnership with Malawi’s Ministry of Health in the rural Neno district to provide comprehensive, community-based care to an area of about 125,000 people. At the time, Neno did not have a district hospital, and its 10 health centers had fallen into disrepair.

During its first three years, PIH/APZU completed construction of Neno District Hospital and a community hospital in Lisungwi, which is located in an area severely burdened by the AIDS epidemic. The project also supports 11 community health centers throughout the district.

Key programs at these centers include treatment and prevention for complex diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, and drug-resistant tuberculosis, as well as initiatives to treat and prevent malaria, reduce maternal mortality rates, and treat childhood malnutrition. In 2011, PIH/APZU opened a Nutritional Rehabilitation Unit to treat severely malnourished children—the first of its kind in the district.

PIH/APZU complements its clinical services with community outreach programs. The Neno Community Support Initiative, which boasts more than 2,500 members, provides ongoing health education and community building for people living with HIV/AIDS. This support and sense of community is particularly important in Malawi, where HIV continues to be highly stigmatized.

PIH/APZU also provides socioeconomic support to its most vulnerable patients, as poverty is often the root cause of disease. The Program on Social and Economic Rights organizes job skills training and employment programs (including carpentry, tailoring, knitting, farming, and running a local restaurant) to help patients and their families lift themselves out of poverty. The program helps children attend school by supporting the costs of school fees, school uniforms, and school supplies, and provides safe housing for patients in need.

By the numbers:

Total population: 16,323,044
Life expectancy at birth: 47 years
Child mortality: 110 per 1,000
Maternal mortality: 510 per 100,000 live births
Adult prevalence of HIV: 11%
Prevalence of TB: 243 per 100,000
Population living on less than $1 per day: 73.9%