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Dignitas International Signs $9.2 Million Agreement with USAID to Save More Lives

Toronto, June 17, 2010 – Dignitas International has signed a USD 9.2 million Cooperative Agreement to fight HIV in Malawi with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As part of this Agreement, Dignitas is committed to matching USAID’s contribution of $4.6 million with funding from other donors.

This grant will help Dignitas expand programming from Zomba District (population: 650,000) to five additional districts (population: 3.1 million) in the southern region – almost one quarter of Malawi’s population. In this densely populated area, it is estimated that 17% of the population are HIV+, with the highest HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women (21.7%) in the country.

Since 2004, Dignitas has worked with the Malawi Ministry of Health (MoH) to start over 13,000 HIV+ patients on life-saving antiretroviral treatment, and to bring HIV services to 42 rural health facilities.

Dignitas manages a National HIV Centre of Excellence, and has established a healthcare worker clinic that keeps more than 350 HIV+ healthcare workers and their family members alive. An innovative HIVTB clinic provides more effective integrated care to co-infected patients.

When Dignitas began working in Malawi, there were effectively no HIV services in Zomba District, which is situated four hours southeast of Lilongwe. This was the most under-served district in a country in one of the most under-resourced health systems on the planet. Now, thousands of patients who once had to walk 40kms or more to access treatment are receiving care through their local health centres.

“This funding is a major milestone for us,” explained James Fraser, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Dignitas International. “In Zomba, Dignitas has demonstrated that it is possible to deliver sustainable, high-quality HIV services. With this grant, we’ll be able to effectively scale up these services to reach a much bigger population. It’s exciting to think of the lives we’ll save, and the families and communities we’ll strengthen through this crucial initiative with USAID and the Malawi MoH.”

By the end of 2013, this grant will result in 45,000 more people starting treatment, and more equitable access to high-quality health services. Dignitas will continue to strengthen Malawi’s public healthcare system through training and mentorship of healthcare workers, knowledge sharing, and operations research.

Dignitas International dramatically increases access to effective HIV/AIDS-related prevention, treatment, care and support in resource-limited settings through medical programs and health systems strengthening.

The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

Dignitas InternationalDignitas International Signs $9.2 Million Agreement with USAID to Save More Lives