U.S. Doctors for Africa:
Working Towards Alleviating Human Suffering U.S. Doctors for Africa

(USDFA) is a non-profit organization that was established in Los Angeles on June 26th, 2001 with the mission to control the spread of and eventually eradicate HIV/AIDS from the African continent where it has taken such disproportionate hold. The main goal is to utilize advanced clinical technology, medicine and a dedicated, multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals in the U.S. to provide healthcare, education, and counseling about the disease.

According to Ted Alemayehu, President and founder of USDFA, "In order to truly understand and combat the pandemic we must first respect and understand the uniqueness of the African peoples and the communities in which they live. It is only within the framework of these national, regional and local influences affecting their daily life, their treatment and ultimately the spread of the disease, that we will achieve success in destroying this deadly disease." In response to the AIDS crisis in Africa, USFDA will be working without regard for race, political affiliation, religion, age, gender, sexual-orientation, physical or mental disability to ease suffering. It will do so, by concentrating on three segments within the healthcare spectrum to effectively utilize its resources, knowledge base, and access channels:

1.) Treatment- which comprises antiviral medication, medical care, counseling and education;

2.) Prevention- with the help of African interpreters (with a background in healthcare or social work) will target African youth, adults and expectant mothers and provide them with culturally and linguistically appropriate information on prevention of HIV/AIDS infection and other diseases;

3.) Disease Transmission Trackingfocuses on metrics and information technology necessary to adequately monitor inputs affecting disease transmission. A distinct factor that makes the organization stand out is that it provides a mutually beneficial conduit for both the African people in need of healthcare and for medical and nursing students who seek practical experience in a challenging environment. Currently, it is working with prominent medical professionals from Wayne State School of Medicine, Stanford University, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Sothern California (USC), and New York University to coordinate humanitarian expeditions to Africa during summer and winter breaks.

Charitable donations and government funding provide transportation, lodging, insurance, and a stipend for those who participate in the program. USFDA in collaboration with medical schools provides medical supplies and healthcare professionals who are ready to donate time and expertise. A team of experts from USDFA which included Dr. Fleming Fallon, Medical Director, and JD Schramm, Strategic Director, completed an assessment trip in late December and early January this year to South Africa, Kenya, and Ethiopia. The trip enabled USFDA to develop relationships and gather critical information to plan complimentary educational programs and offer much needed medical services in Africa. There are three major projects that USDFA is intent on bringing to fruition by the end of this year.

The Mother and Child-Month Nine Initiative program focuses on villages in North-Eastern South Africa where most men work in the mines away from their villages for 11 months a year. Therefore, there is a huge increase in conception rates around Christmas and the New Year resulting in birth rate spike nine months later in September making it very difficult for the already overburdened clinics and hospitals in the region. To make matters worse, one in four babies in this region is born HIV positive through mother to child transmission, and USDFA plans to make an impact by educating the mothers to protect themselves against the disease.

The second project is partnership with Dawn of Hope Ethiopia which is an indigenous non-profit established in 1998 where all the founding members are infected with HIV/AIDS. The organization fights the psychological, social, economic discrimination against HIV carriers, provides support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans. USFDA will be help by providing medical services from expert HIV/AIDS practitioners and support programs that educate vulnerable age groups about prevention.

The third project is partnership with Mercy Airlift a non-profit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization founded in 1968 that provides immediate responses to natural disasters and complex emergencies. It transports food, medical supplies, medical personnel, and equipment to the site of disasters by air or ground. To support overwhelming demands of healthcare USFDA along with Mercy Airlift expects to deploy 20 doctors from various fields and 30 nurses to South Africa, Ethiopia, and Nigeria via a Boeing 767 named the Flying Hospital equipped with advanced technology that allows doctors to perform surgery and beds for patients to recover.

The idea behind U.S. Doctors for Africa is gaining momentum in the U.S. and has received a good deal of coverage from the American media. Most notably, Ted Alemayhu and Dr. Erik Fleischman, board member of USDFA, were interviewed on the Tavis Smiley Show on National Public Radio and featured on KABC 7 news in Los Angeles. In addition, participation of entertainers like Matt Damon, Steven Seagal and Danny Glover, politicians such as U.S. Congresswoman Diane Watson, and philanthropists helps to draw attention to the devastation HIV/AIDS is causing in Africa. On the invitation of USFDA, honorary celebrity member Steven Seagal is planning to travel to Ethiopia this summer to gain first hand experience on how AIDS is annihilating a whole generation.

"It's amazing how much one person can do to work toward this cause. It's not just the faces you recognize that can make a difference. Anyone who cares about the millions dying and orphaned by HIV can help, and when the presence of a famous face at an event helps to raise even one thousand extra dollars, or attracts the attention of one more doctor interested in helping, we are eternally indebted to each of them for lending their time and effort to our mission" _ Ted Alemayhu

AIDS and other curable diseases that are wiping out millions are not just a problem of Ethiopia or Africa but a world problem. If you are interested in making a difference please visit www.usdoctorsforafrica.org. tf

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