Mozambique desperate for doctors

By July 15, 2010

Mozambique (MNN) — Some 6.4 million people in northern Mozambique, Africa, have little or no access to medical care. They live in a largely-Muslim area of the country and suffer needlessly from malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, and numerous medical conditions made worse by poverty and poor sanitation.

Many haven't even heard the Gospel.

But now, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is helping make the critical difference. Like the spreading dawn, hope and healing are coming to these afflicted people. The story of transformation has just begun.

The Program Manager for MAF Mozambique is Warren Veal. He said MAF is teaming up with Dr. Pim de Lijster, a Dutch physician who is known as "Doctor Pim," and a Brazilian dentist, Dr. Ida de Carvalho, "Doctor Ida," to form MozMed, a ministry that is bringing life, hope, and relief from suffering.

Veal says, "The three of us work together to provide health care in one of the rural districts in Mozambique."

He said the health care needs are great. "There [are] about 33,000 people for every doctor in the country. Actually, here in the north, that statistic is a little bit worse because there are even fewer doctors."

MAF flies these doctors into an area on a Monday, they set up a clinic, and treat those in need. Veal says it's not just about seeing patients; they're also training untrained health care workers to care for those in need when the doctors aren't in town.

MAF overcomes barriers of terrain by flying this dedicated team to eight isolated villages for a recurring schedule of half-day clinics. Each clinic is staffed by a government-sponsored health worker.

Dr. Pim is deeply moved by what he finds at those clinics. "Everything I see touches my heart. People come in with monstrous, untreated problems, from infected teeth with terrible abscesses that break
out to the outside of their face, to children with worms and adults with AIDS."

"At a clinic today, I treated a small child who was unconscious. The parents couldn't tell us much, so we cared for her as best we could. She was gasping for breath … we thought she would be dying right in front of us. There was little time for diagnosis. We assumed the child had cerebral malaria. We put up a drip and started with a malaria medication. Within two or three hours she began to recuperate and come around, which is a lovely sign to see. I think the child would have died if she hadn't gotten the medication, if MAF had not supported this important outreach."

The stories are countless.

While MozMed has only been working with one doctor and a dentist, they are making a huge difference in the lives of thousands. In the next 12 months, MozMed hopes to conduct 150 medical clinics, seeing or treating an estimated 4,500 people who otherwise would be without any medical care. Further, staff are praying to expand MozMed, because the needs are so great.

However, Veal said they need full time doctors, nurses, and other professionals. While short term workers can help, they can't be as effective as full time workers. "In order to practice medicine in Mozambique, you need a Mozambique medical license. So, a doctor coming from outside the country would need to be here two years at least. Then we can get him licensed and then go out and practice medicine."

While providing medical care is important, so is sharing the Gospel. Veal said in the areas in which they're working, it's predominately Muslim. "So, we can't do very much open air evangelism or showing the JESUS Film, but certainly as people are sitting in the clinic, it's obviously a wonderful time to talk to them about Jesus and share God's love with them."

There are needs associated with that, too. Veal said they need "more Mozambicans that can go with us and do more pastoral counseling and pastoral help. It needs to be someone who can speak the local dialect."

While you may not be a medical professional, you can help through prayers and giving. For the next three months, it will cost $207,403 to operate the Mozambique flight program. MAF will use your partnership in wonderful ways to relieve suffering, give medical aid, transport the critically ill or injured, and share the love of Jesus.

Would you pray about helping through a gift of $35, $50, or $100? As you give, you're investing in someone's eternal life in the African nation of Mozambique.

Click here if you'd like to give.

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