Project Medishare Receives PEPFAR Support for HIV/AIDS Prevention
Project Medishare, an NGO supporting medical and public health programming on Haiti's Central Plateau, has been awarded a $1.25 million grant through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The award, which is focused on HIV/AIDS prevention activities, is part of a $4.8 million grant to Cross International, a South Florida-based interdenominational Christian humanitarian agency. Cross International has posted an announcement on their website as well.
Project Medishare was founded in 1995 by two Miller School of Medicine physicians, Barth Green, M.D., professor and chairman of neurological surgery, and Arthur Fournier, M.D., professor and vice chairman of family medicine, and associate dean for community health affairs. Their goal was to bring medical care to the poorest regions of Haiti, help train doctors, nurses and other medical professionals and establish an infrastructure to provide a sustainable way of life. “This grant is a solid foundation,” said Dr. Fournier, “on which to build awareness to prevent the spread of AIDS.”
This grant, which took effect December 1, 2008, on World AIDS Day, marks a milestone for Cross International, the organization overseeing the grant and achievement of its objective. “This is the biggest single grant in the history of Cross, a real landmark in the seven years since we began serving the poor,” Cross President Jim Cavnar said. “The competition was tough, and the fact that we were chosen says a lot about our work and how much we have matured as a ministry.” PEPFAR was established by President George W. Bush in 2003 to combat global HIV/AIDS. Cross was one of 19 non-profits to receive funding.
The goal of the grant was to encourage faith-based and local organizations to partner with the U.S. government’s global AIDS initiative. Cross International will be working with Project Medishare and four mission partners to begin a comprehensive HIV/AIDS awareness and care program that targets teens, AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. The three-year project will reach an estimated 5,000 orphans and vulnerable children, providing them with care and medical services. Project Medishare will focus its work on one of Haiti’s poorest regions, the Central Plateau.
The ties between Project Medishare and Cross International have long been established, with Cross supporting a number of programs. Miller School and UM nursing students have traveled to Haiti to work hand in hand with local doctors and community nurses, providing access to preventive and curative health care to more than 6,000 children in the city of Thomonde. Cross has funded CT scans for the more than 60 children who undergo surgery each year to alleviate hydrocephalus, “water on the brain.” John Ragheb, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery, travels to Haiti four times a year to perform surgery to reduce the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.
Project Medishare is developing a factory to produce a nutritious, sustainable food source called Akamil. Once operational, Cross will be one of the first organizations to purchase Akamil to feed children in local schools.
“Partnering with Cross International,” says Dr. Green, “has proven to be successful in the past. We believe this money will allow us to expand AIDS awareness, educate the population and prevent its spread to future generations.”