St. Luke's School of Nursing at Moravian College faculty members Michelle August-Brady, Lori Hoffman, and Maria Schantz recently visited Mozambique, as the first stage of a twinning partnership with Mozambican nurses. The fully-funded program aims to strengthen health care in the impoverished country.

Imagine having a family member who suffers from a life-threatening illness, and the only health care provider within miles is a 15-year-old nurse with a 7th-grade education. Such a scenario is not unusual throughout rural Mozambique, Africa.

A country of 20 million people, Mozambique has just 4,000 nurses, who have various levels of nursing education. Malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and typhoid fever are prevalent, cutting life expectancy to just 42. Cholera is an ever present threat to the health of Mozambicans, especially with the current epidemic in neighboring Zimbabwe.

To help improve these conditions, St. Luke's School of Nursing (SON) at Moravian College faculty members have entered a twinning partnership to develop programs to educate and advocate for Mozambican nurses. The partnership is fully funded by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through a $150,000 grant from the American International Health Alliance. Lori Hoffman, associate professor of nursing, learned of the opportunity while attending a conference last April, then submitted a proposal endorsed by Kerry Cheever, professor and chairperson, SON/Moravian.

"A poorly developed infrastructure ... compounds the challenges for nurses," said Dr. Hoffman.

Rural health care facilities, where many people begin treatment, include simple huts (top). Through referrals, higher-level care may be obtained at provincial hospitals, such as this one in Xai Xai, Gaza Province (above), or at central hospitals located in three cities.

In early January, Lori Hoffman, Maria Schantz, Maria Schantz, assistant professor of nursing, and Michelle August-Brady, associate professor of nursing, visited Mozambique to assess current conditions. "A poorly developed infrastructure—with limitations in modes of transportation, roads, and technology—compounds the challenges for nurses," said Dr. Hoffman.

In April, representatives from the Associacao Nacional Enfermeiros de Mozambique (ANEMO, National Association of Nurses of Mozambique) will visit Moravian to further develop ties and determine goals. A return visit by SON/Moravian to Mozambique is planned for September. Although the grant covers just FY 2009, it is possible that the program will continue to receive similar levels of funding for the next three to five years, benefiting not only the nurses and people of Mozambique, but also Moravian faculty members and, ultimately, its students and community.

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