Progress and Hope In Madagascar
Members of the PIVOT board of directors and U.S. – based staff recently returned from a trip to Madagascar. The purpose of the trip was for board and staff members to meet and discuss progress and plans with in-country staff and also to observe first-hand the work being carried out.
Significant progress was reported on major fronts including infrastructure improvements, e.g., building and renovating health centers, latrines, incinerators, etc., a program to provide all essential medicines and consumables at no cost to patients, a growing ambulance referral system that is reaching people out in the rugged countryside, and efforts to treat malnutrition in partnership with the country’s ministry of health. Madagascar has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world.
Future progress will be easier to track due to enhancements being made to PIVOT’s monitoring and evaluation system. It remains a fundamental goal to quantitatively assess all facets of our intervention. A new data tool called “ClicData” is being employed that will allow for real-time access to data such as patient utilization rates of various services and facilities.
Board members visited health centers and the district hospital, joined in-home patient visits, and met with health ministry officials. They also explored the beautiful natural resources of the country highlighted by a tour of Ranomafana National Park, which was led by Dr. Patricia Wright, distinguished professor of anthropology at Stony Brook University, founder and executive director of Centre ValBio, a conservation research station located just outside the park, and a PIVOT board member.
PIVOT’s research agenda aimed at understanding the underlying causes of illnesses and consequences of health interventions was advanced through a presentation given by Dr. Matt Bonds, PIVOT’s Co-CEO, and discussions with research colleagues. These included Dr. Wright, Dr. Thomas Gillespie, an infectious disease biologist and PIVOT board member, and Dr. Peter Small, who is the inaugural director of a new Global Health Institute at Stony Brook.
PIVOT is still young and there are significant challenges to saving lives and breaking cycles of poverty and disease in Madagascar, but the trip offered tangible evidence of progress being made and many signs of encouragement and hope.