A health worker takes a man’s blood pressure at a Catholic mobile clinic in Malawi.
A Diocese of Karonga health worker takes Joseph Mwenibabu’s blood pressure.

Diocese of Karonga Provides Medical Aid to the Poor in Rural Malawi

Leaders in the Church are striving to live out the fifth Corporal Work of Mercy — visit the sick — and our ministry has pledged to support them in every way we can. Their goal is to respect the families they serve by providing quality care, and we are deeply grateful for our compassionate supporters for the role they play in funding that level of medical aid for the poor and vulnerable around the world.

Here is one way Cross Catholic Outreach donors recently blessed communities in need of medical care — this time in the Diocese of Karonga in Malawi.

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Bridging Malawi’s Health Care Gap

Our friends in the Diocese of Karonga have taken on the immense challenge of extending quality, accessible medical care to remote villages.

This intervention is needed even though the government in Malawi technically offers services at its health centers because there are too few of those facilities available in remote areas and because they are often underfunded, dramatically limiting their usefulness to the poor.

For example, a trip to the Jalawe Health Centre in Chilipapa would require about a six-hour walk over hilly terrain — an impossibly difficult challenge for pregnant women or someone weakened by malaria. Because of these hardships, some put off seeking care for as long as possible and others die trying to make the journey.

Related: Reaching developing countries with quality medical care

A Compassionate Solution to Health Needs

Thanks to support from our donors, Caritas Karonga was recently able to set up and operate a mobile medical clinic.

That clinic’s focus is on treating non-communicable diseases, which often require long-term treatment and can prove an enormous burden on the local health care system and the poor.

Specifically, the mobile medical clinic hosts screenings for cervical cancer, hypertension and diabetes. Two-day clinics are held once every two months, and 27 community volunteers do door-to-door outreach to encourage at-risk individuals to attend the screenings. Close to 1,000 patients typically attend, and some are selected to receive a monthly medication supply for conditions such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

A Grateful Patient

We recently met 54-year-old Joseph Mwenibabu as he was undergoing a routine blood pressure checkup at the mobile clinic.

After the nurse logged his results, the father of six turned to us in tears.

“Thank you,” he said, “and thank you to the donors. I would not be alive today without you. I would surely be dead, and I don’t know how my family would survive.”

Joseph explained that his health had begun to deteriorate two years ago. Dizziness, shortness of breath, and swelling in his legs impeded his ability to work on his farm, and as a result he struggled to feed his family.

Joseph had no idea what was making him so weak, and neighbors began to avoid him for fear his condition might be contagious. He worried that as he grew sicker, his family would go hungry.

When the mobile clinic arrived, it was like an answer to prayer.

Right away, clinicians noticed his blood pressure fluctuating wildly. They did further testing and discovered the root of the problem — an enlarged heart. They put him on a treatment plan, and the change was dramatic. Now he works on his farm again and is able to attend Mass regularly like he used to.

“Thank you for giving us our father back,” said his teenage son Renard. “I cannot express the joy we feel knowing that he is well.”

Related: Restoring health and hope through Catholic medical missions

Show Christ’s Love by Supporting Medical Ministries

Modern medicine can provide incredible blessings, but it comes with a cost — one that’s often far beyond the means of the poor.

You can join Cross Catholic Outreach in addressing this need by giving online today. Your gifts will empower local ministry partners in developing countries to deliver potentially life-saving care to families who might otherwise lack even the most basic health services.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.