September 30, 2011


Dorothy Gillan Ngoma heads the only union in Malawi for health care workers–hers represents nurses and midwives. A nurse herself, Ngoma is one of a handful of private sector leaders calling on Malawi president Bingu wa Mutharika to rethink his priorities in a country where the average per capita income is less than $800 a year. Earlier this year, the president spent millions of dollars on a private jet, while failing to allocate resources to reduce the country’s grim health statistics, including one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the world and a life expectancy for women of 51 years (and it’s worse for Malawi men at 44 years). In an interview for Healthstyles that I did of Ngoma a few weeks ago in Geneva, she told me that her life has been threatened for speaking out. Her president has been criticized for not tolerating dissent and criticism of his regime. She insists that she will not be silent. I fear for her life.