RMF Volunteer Carly Panchura Attends Unite-for-Sight Conference, Stanford University

RMF Volunteer Carly Panchura Attends Unite-for-Sight Conference, Stanford University

April 1, 2007

Unite for Sight, a non-profit dedicated to vision care in the developing world, had its annual conference at Stanford University on April 14-15, 2007. Carly Panchura, Real Medicine's Special Events Coordinator, attended on behalf of Real Medicine. Speakers from many countries and all over the United States presented talks on their current projects around the world. Some highlights are summarized below:


Brian Lehnen from the Village Enterprise Fund gave a broad overview of microfinance, spoke about his experience in program evaluation for such programs and provided some data on outcomes from his current project in rural east Africa. Key outcome measurements discussed were loan repayment rates, operational self-sufficiency, return on assets and benefit to clients. Alex Counts from the Grameen Foundation discussed the Grameen Banks programs in 23 countries and how they measure the impact of microfinance. RMF currently has a Microfinance program in Indonesia which provided a grant to Mlese Village in Central Java, one of the areas worst affected by the May 2006 earthquake. Since dispersal, the grant has already directly impacted over 1,000 individuals and stimulated a multiyear process of economic growth that will actively fight poverty and redevelop the community.

HIV/AIDS Pandemic:

Dr. David Katzenstein, a Professor at Stanford, discussed the prevalence rates of AIDS, and provided a summary of organizations working on this disease (AMFAR, AIDSETI, Clinton Foundation, CHFI, Ford Foundation, HIVMA, UNGASS, etc.) RMF currently has HIV/AIDS programs in the Jhabua District, Madhya Pradesh, India, and western Kenya, and in preparation in rural Mozambique (all focused on the areas of education, prevention and treatment).

Clowns Without Borders:

A performer presented the vision and tactics used in the organization's outreach efforts to provide comic entertainment to children living in areas victim to disaster, epidemic, or other psychologically traumatic event. It was discussed in other presentations the value of bringing toys for children into post-disaster situations. RMF recently delivered toys to children in Pakistan, placing emphasis on the importance of emotional support as a complement to medical care.

Community-Based Rehabilitation:

Dr. Kathryn Azevedo presented her work in CBR when living at the PROJIMO (Programa de Rehabilitacion Organizado por Jovenes Incapacidades en Mexico Occidental) in the late 1980's. This organization, now located in Coyotitan, builds wheelchairs, constructs below-the-knee prosthetics and orthotics for people with disabilities with low resources all over Mexico, but concentrated in the western state of Sinaloa. RMF's programs, much like those at PROJIMO, focus on the person as a whole including the tertiary levels of healthcare such as rehabilitation, social, and emotional support in addition to medical care.

Health as if People Mattered:

Dr. John Hammock, a professor at Tufts University, gave a dynamic presentation that touched on the human aspect of international development. He touched on the need more building on local people and existing platforms instead of providing "band-aid" support. Real Medicine Foundation was created to provide longer term, sustained support so that we can respond appropriately with customized services designed to best meet the immediate and long-term needs of the specific individuals and communities we serve.

Venture Strategies for Health and Development:

Dr. Martha Campbell presented several operating principles for health and development: sustainable systemic change, scale, cost-effectiveness, affordable prices for poor, administratively compact, barriers to progress that can be decreased soon. She recommended policy meetings as an effective method for mobilizing and building awareness. She discussed a program on misoprostol tabs for controlling maternal hemorrhaging.

More Information:

A few interesting new books were out at the conference, published by the Hesperian Foundation (www.hesperian.org). Most new is Jane Maxwell's Handbook on Women with Disabilities. For more information on the conference itself, please download the PDF of the schedule below.

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