In October 2011, GiveWell staff visited five organizations in Malawi and four in India as part of our research process to identify top-rated charities. We are posting notes and pictures from our visits below as we receive permission from the organizations to do so.
The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative is providing support to the government of Malawi to conduct mass drug administrations of praziquantel. This project is funded by a five-year, eight-country grant from the UK's Department for International Development (DfID). As part of our visit to Malawi we met with SCI Director Alan Fenwick, attended a meeting for stakeholders of the national schistosomiasis control program, and observed a mass drug administration at a primary school.
We visited Concern Universal in Malawi as part of our evaluation of the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF). In late 2011, AMF plans to send about 250,000 nets to Malawi for CU to distribute in the district of Ntcheu as part of a countrywide effort to cover every sleeping space. It is AMF's largest distribution to date by far and AMF told us that this program is likely to serve as a model for future distributions.
As part of our visit, we had discussions with Concern Universal staff, visited homes in a part of the district in which Concern Universal previously distributed a smaller number of AMF nets, attended a training session for government health workers, observed a village meeting to verify household net needs, and met with coordinators for the national net distribution campaign. We also spent a day visiting areas in which Concern Universal is working to improve water and sanitation access and spoke with local residents who have participated in the program.
Partners in Health (PIH) works in 12 countries around the world, including Malawi. We visited the hospital and village health worker program that comprise part of its Malawi project. We toured the hospital, visited HIV patients' homes with a community health worker, and discussed the socio-economic support program (POSER) with staff members of that program.
Operation ASHA supplements Government-run Tuberculosis control programs, primarily in India, aiming to increase the number of people with TB who are detected and treated. We visited Operation ASHA at their headquarters in Delhi. While there, we visited three of Operation ASHA's Delhi TB treatment centers, reviewed Operation ASHA's data monitoring, and spoke at length with staff members about the program.
VillageReach was GiveWell's #1 charity from 2009 to 2011 (it was replaced in November 2011 because it did not have projected short-term funding needs). We previously visited VillageReach's program in Mozambique. In October 2011, we visited VillageReach's two projects in Malawi. We visited the Kwitanda Community Health program, which includes a variety of support for the local health clinic and the network of community health workers, improvements to water infrastructure, TB detection facilities, and distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets. We also visited the hotline headquarters of the ICT to Improve Health Services for Mothers and Children project, and met with a group of government health coordinators to discuss the challenges they face in the district VillageReach works in.
While in Malawi, GiveWell staff met with the Head of Mission for MSF Belgium. We discussed MSF Belgium's work on HIV/AIDS treatment in the country, which it started in 2003, and its plans for the future as HIV/AIDS treatment leadership is largely taken over by the government and large international organizations that it partners with.