Sat, Dec 11, 2010 - Page 13 News List

Taiwanese medic returns to Malawi for AIDS work

Joseph Wu, back row, second right, poses with friends in Malawi, a country he considers his second home.


A Taiwanese medic who first went to Malawi as part of his military service has returned to the country to promote AIDS prevention and other public health programs.

Joseph Wu, 29, has a master’s degree in epidemiology, the study of how population and environmental factors contri-bute to public health, from National Taiwan University.

After Taiwan and Malawi broke off diplomatic relations, Wu and his newly-wed wife were dispatched to Malawi to set up AIDS prevention and other public health programs. In Mzuzu, Malawi’s third largest city, where they are the only Taiwanese residents, he has taught widows how to make onion pancakes and shown AIDS patients how to make soybean milk. Wu says he plans to use his medical training to overcome the obstacles of nationality and ethnicity to spread love and compassion.

After completing his training with the International Coope-ration and Development Fund in 2007, Wu was dispatched to a Taiwanese-run medical team in Malawi. On that first trip to Malawi, he served as an overseas volunteer where his main task was to analyze and promote an AIDS database. A year after arriving, Taiwan and Malawi severed diplomatic ties and in the following February the medical team was disbanded and returned to Taiwan.

The medical team, which consisted mainly of staff from Pingtung Christian Hospital, wanted to prevent their years of hard work from going to waste. As a non-governmental organization, the hospital eventually secured funding from Luke International Norway (LIN), a Norwegian organization. In July 2008, shortly after completing his military service, Wu was given responsibility for integrating the AIDS patient information systems at five hospitals in northern Malawi. Since last April, he has also trained locals in his capacity as lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Science at Mzuzu University.

Wu says one of the most memorable moments was doing development work at a community stricken by AIDS. Along with volunteers from Kaohsiung Medical University, he went to a village of widows and taught them how to make Taiwan-style green onion pancakes based on their own oil pancake recipe. They taught the woman how to grow the scallion for their pancakes, and the new dish was well received and soon become a thriving business opportunity.

Wu also transformed a local food factory into a soybean milk factory. He said that soybeans are the best kind of bean, and that soybean milk is both cheap and nutritious. Pingtung Christian Hospital contributed to buying the necessary equipment and then he taught the locals how to make soybean milk. The resulting milk was well received and quickly become popular with the locals.








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