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A letter from Barbara Nagy in Malawi

August 2011

Dear Friends,

Barbara Nagy, standing beside a man and a little girl.

Barbara at work with a patient family.

Greetings from New Jersey, where we are finishing up a family visit with entertainment from Hurricane Irene, which has delayed our departure back to Malawi.  We now depart on Sept 1 and wanted to give you an update about Nkhoma prior to departing.

We continue to be extremely busy at Nkhoma Hospital, having cared for over 17,000 inpatients and 45,000 outpatients at the hospital in the past year, and over 4,000 inpatients and 84,000 outpatients at our health centers during that same period.  8,500 new mothers had access to lifesaving prenatal care, and thanks to better delivery and newborn care techniques, many more babies left the hospital alive and well.  Almost 60,000 people had homes sprayed for malaria mosquitoes, thanks to a grant from the PC(USA), resulting in a 75 percent drop in malaria in communities tested and a 10 percent increase in hemoglobin among children in those same areas, a vital factor for kids doing well at school.  What do these numbers mean in more human terms?  A mother who has lost eight previous children has left the hospital with a healthy newborn.  Siblings of kids who have had strokes and severe brain damage or have died have escaped severe malaria, and communities are very grateful for the help they have received.  Many who have severe malaria have left the hospital well as a result of a critical-care program that has provided training and equipment for our wards and stocked a new pediatric emergency room. Many malnourished children have received food aid, enabling us to better assess their home needs and make diagnoses of hard-to-prove illnesses like tuberculosis.  An 11-year-old boy who had been unconscious on the pediatric ward for over two weeks returns robust and the picture of good health after two months on TB therapy. New ties with the Malawi College of Medicine enable us to offer diagnosis and some treatment for children with severe heart disease.  The HIV/AIDS department has continued to improve its capabilities, enabling diagnosis of young children with HIV in time to start lifesaving anti-HIV medicines as well as keeping parents alive and well to care for their families.

We face daily challenges as Malawi enters a time of even more severe financial constraint and many of our patients’ admissions supposedly funded by Malawi government have to be carried by overseas donations.  Foreign exchange, needed for buying medicines and purchasing fuel to run ambulances, has become very scarce.  With the continued electrical outages we are experiencing, there is risk of patients on oxygen or needing emergency surgery dying as a result of no fuel to run backup generators, and our small generator has proved too limited to run all areas of the expanding hospital. Malawi has become politically troubled as well, with many donor nations withdrawing aid over human rights issues, and with mass demonstrations planned.  These severe disruptions could lead to despair over the ability of Nkhoma Hospital to remain open and serve patients.  We continue to lift our needs up to the Lord who has sustained us through numerous disasters over the past years, and ask you also to pray for us.  Donations are particularly needed for patient care needs unable to be supplied by Malawi government, and for a larger generator. 

With gratitude for all who have prayed for and supported us,

Barbara Nagy and family

The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 67

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