CURE Malawi: Why patients and families seek care with CURE

This is a guest post written by Joel Worrall, CTO of CURE, a global nonprofit network of charitable hospitals and surgical programs. CURE provides treatment for children with conditions like clubfoot, bowed legs, cleft lips, untreated burns, and hydrocephalus. New Relic has teamed up with CURE for the ‘30 Days, 30 Kids’ campaign. For each new deployment, New Relic is donating $100 towards the cost of a child’s surgery in a CURE hospital. Learn more here.

A few years ago, our physicians at the CURE hospital in Blantyre, Malawi conducted a two-year study designed to understand one thing: what is the most important reason our patients and their families seek care at CURE?

Going into the study, our doctors assumed that our patients would rank things like going to school, getting a job, or all the future opportunities that are available to these kids because of the surgical care they receive as their primary drivers; they assumed that the world-class quality medical care that CURE provides would be a major reason why people come to our hospital.

Instead, what we found was much more raw and immediate, and the results of that study have focused our thinking on what our patients need from us and (therefore) how we oversee our worldwide network of hospitals and programs. Here are the study’s top four reasons that patients come to CURE for care:

1. Indignity

Because of their condition, the kids we serve felt as if they had lost their dignity. Many of them were mocked by their peers, fellow villagers and even family members. For these kids and their parents, removing that indignity was a deep need that they couldn’t meet on their own. Coming to CURE gave them hope to erase that indignity as we worked to restore their bodies to full health.

2. Exclusion

Many of these kids had lived very isolated lives. Other children couldn’t or wouldn’t play with them because of their condition, and many families – because of deeply held beliefs regarding the role of “curse” in their society – felt that hiding these little ones in their homes and huts was better than exposing them to judgment. For some of these kids, the playroom at the CURE hospital was the first very time they had ever truly felt included as they experienced the simple joys of childhood with other kids who had similar conditions.


3. Hunger

In a developing world context where economically disadvantaged families struggle to meet daily needs, the sad fact is that the child who can’t contribute to the family because of their physical limitation is the last to eat. Many of the kids we serve had spent much of their life going to bed hungry night after night.

At CURE, unlike almost any other developing world hospital setting, we meet the daily needs of our patients for food and bedding. Patients and their caregivers are fed three nutritious meals per day, and are given a clean bed to sleep in – often the first mattress they have ever slept on in their entire lives.

4. Pain


Finally, for our patients, it is often the case that the future that awaits them in a life free from disability is less important than the relief from the daily pain that they experienced. For many of our kids, it hurts to walk. It hurts to crawl. Sometimes it hurts to even move. The surgical care we provide meets the most immediate and constant need in their life, providing a future without constant pain.

Thankfully, all these reasons and more are why we created CUREkids. We wanted to extend our ability to meet both their physical and emotional needs, and we needed the help of more people like you to do it.

Where these kids felt excluded and mocked, we sought to open a new world of people who (in some small sense) know them and love them. For many of ours kids, the get well message that a supporter sends from the other side of the world is one of the most cherished pieces of communication they have ever received. When they arrive at the hospital, our kids feel hunger and pain, and because of the financial support and advocacy of people just like you on the other side of the world who now know their story (and know how their support is making difference), we’re able to provide them the finest surgical care and proper nourishment, meeting their very real and tangible physical needs.

There’s a lot to be thankful for this time of year, and at CURE, we’re thankful for the way New Relic has generously partnered with us to heal 30 kids in 30 days. Right now, you can be a part of that simply by deploying New Relic. For each deployment between now and December 10th, New Relic is donating $100 towards the life-changing surgery of a child in a CURE hospital.

Help your app get healthy, and help heal a child at the same time. It’s literally better than pumpkin pie. Learn more here.

Learn More:

    • Read Joel’s previous posts about his trip to Uganda and Afghanistan
    • Watch Joel’s talk at FutureStack13
    • Donate to the ’30 Days, 30 Kids’ campaign

This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their biographical details at the top of the post above. View posts by .

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