A humanitarian response to the African HIV/AIDS pandemic by Indiana University School of Medicine and its education partner in Kenya, Moi University School of Medicine, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
The program, AMPATH (Academic Model for Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS) was only a concept 7 years ago. Through the efforts of its field director, Joseph Mamlin, M.D., and faculty involved in the IU-Kenya Partnership, AMPATH now treats 42,000 HIV-positive Kenyan patients at 19 clinical sites throughout western Kenya. It also provides food assistance to 20,000 people and job and agricultural training to thousands more.
More than 1.3 million Kenyan men, women and children are living with HIV/AIDS. AMPATH addresses the social stigma of the disease while providing medication and helping people become self-sufficient by providing food, jobs and agricultural assistance.
In the Nobel Peace Prize nomination, Scott Pegg, Ph.D., from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Butler University's David Mason, Ph.D., both professors of political science, noted that AMPATH has been recognized as one of the world’s most comprehensive and innovative AIDS control programs.
"This partnership is not only one of the largest and most comprehensive HIV/AIDS programs in the world, it is a model of U.S.-Africa institutional cooperation. This model can be replicated throughout the developing world, and thus put a halt to a pandemic that may soon pass the Black Death to become the most brutal killer in human history," Pegg and Mason said in the letter of nomination.
Pegg and Mason also cited Dr. Mamlin, professor emeritus of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, as a driving force behind the program.
Dr. Mamlin was a team leader of the collaborative medical education program at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, in the early 1990s. At that time, he witnessed 85 patient deaths over the course of a year. When he returned full-time to Kenya in 2000, he saw more than 1,000 patients die during a similar period. From that poignant loss, AMPATH was born.
"I find encouragement that thousands around the world are responding faithfully to some of the real pain suffered by so many," says Dr. Mamlin. "While much of this pain is physical, the real tragedy is the loss of hope in single individuals. When any of us find a moment in our lives when we can relieve pain and restore hope, we have already won the Nobel Peace Prize."
Robert Einterz, M.D., IU professor of medicine and director and co-founder of the IU-Kenya Partnership, says, "The Hoosiers that are leading the global fight against HIV are the same Hoosiers that are teaching at the Indiana University School of Medicine and serving vulnerable populations in Indianapolis. Through this partnership, Indiana University demonstrates its commitment to health for all people."
AMPATH is one of 181 nominees for the 2007 Prize, whose winner will be announced in mid-October. In 2006, Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank, which provides micro-credit for low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world, won the Peace Prize.
SOURCE: IU School of Medicine