Building Friendships, Brightening Futures

2013 Kenya Gala
Marriott Hotel
350 W. Maryland Street
Indianapolis, Indiana
October 26, 2013

Introduction: Transforming Lives at Home and Abroad

Thank you, Dave. I am delighted to be here with you this evening to help celebrate AMPATH and the IU-Moi partnership, partnerships that have transformed—and saved—so many lives. 

Those of us who have chosen to commit our lives to education and research know that universities are in the business of transformation. Universities transform the lives of individuals, families, states, and nations through the power of education, research, and service.

Our faculty and students study the causes and effects of the world’s most pressing challenges, and they collaborate across cultures and nations to devise and implement solutions to those problems.

Visiting Africa

Just a few weeks ago, Laurie and I had the opportunity to witness firsthand a number of those international collaborations—including the IU-Moi partnership—as we travelled to South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya.

The purpose of the trip, which was the first trip to Africa by a sitting IU president in more than two decades, was to reach out to IU alumni in Africa and renew their connections to the university, and to extend and expand avenues for student and faculty exchanges, as well as research and educational collaborations, in this increasingly important part of the world.

As part of that trip, of course, I had the privilege of being the first IU president to ever visit the AMPATH program.

That visit demonstrated the powerful truth of the Kenyan proverb “seeing is different from being told.”1

I will not soon forget the sobering images of crowded medical wards, children exposed to and possibly infected with HIV, and bottles of medications stacked ten rows high.

AMPATH, as we just saw in the excellent video, and as those of you who have visited or worked in the program know, is a truly inspirational program. It has had an enormous impact, both on the lives on Kenyans and the faculty and students—from the IU School of Medicine and from around North America—who have dedicated themselves to helping the people of Kenya.

The program is a model of international collaboration in the interest of global public health.

The great success of this program would not have been possible without the expertise and partnership of our distinguished and dedicated Kenyan colleagues.  While I was in Eldoret, I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. John Kibosia, the director of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Professor Fabian Esamai, principal of the Moi University College of Health Sciences—and I am delighted that they are both here tonight.  I am also delighted to welcome Dr. Sylvester Kimaiyo, the program manager of AMPATH. Would you help me welcome Dr. Kimaiyo, Dr. Kibosia, and Professor Esamai?

The program’s continued success likewise would not be possible without the truly remarkable efforts of faculty members and staff from the many North American universities that comprise the AMPATH Consortium, under the leadership in Kenya of IU’s own Adrian Gardner. I am delighted that Dr. Gardner, his wife Jessica, and their one-year-old daughter, Adalyn are here tonight. Please join me in welcoming the Gardner family.

Tonight, I want to say a few words about one of the visionary founders of the IU-Moi partnership and AMPATH, Joe Mamlin, and to make a special announcement.

Dr. Joe Mamlin

Joe, as most of you know, is professor emeritus of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, and he has been a driving force behind AMPATH since its founding. Joe came to IU to complete his internship and residency following his medical training at at Wake Forest University. He then spent two years working with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan—work that would lay the foundation for his career as a humanitarian and global health leader. There, Joe helped to develop a new medical school in Jalalabad, and treated patients under brutal conditions.

As a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and as chief of medicine at what was then Wishard Memorial Hospital, Joe spearheaded the creation of a groundbreaking neighborhood-centered health-care system here in Indianapolis. Joe also created the division of general internal medicine and geriatrics at IU in 1970. At the time, it was one of only three such divisions in the country. It is now the largest in the nation, and it continues to be at the vanguard of education and research and to serve many thousands of patients across Indianapolis.

Joe and his IU colleagues first visited Kenya in the late 1980s to set up a partnership between the IU School of Medicine and the Moi University Faculty of Health Sciences, now known as the Moi University School of Medicine. After serving as team leader in mid-1990s, he returned in 2000 to witness the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic that was only growing worse.

After seeing the number of AIDS-related deaths on the medicine wards at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital climb from less than 100 in his early visits to more than 1,000 in 2000, Joe and his colleagues knew that something had to be done. Joe decided to remain in Kenya.

At about that time, Joe met Kenyan medical student Daniel Ochieng, who was in the advanced stages of AIDS. By that time, the use of antiretroviral drugs was standard in the affluent world, but, in Kenya, such treatment was too expensive. But Joe refused to let Daniel die. With IU’s help, he raised the money necessary to buy the antiretroviral drugs, and Daniel’s recovery was a turning point for the AMPATH program. Joe and his colleagues were convinced that treatment had to be a component of the global AIDS struggle, and today AMPATH has enrolled more than 160,000 HIV infected adults and children.

Daniel Ochieng is now the leader of AMPATH’s outreach efforts, and I am delighted that he is with us tonight. Would you help me welcome Daniel?

Joe Mamlin’s dedication to the AMPATH program and to the people of Kenya has been such that, when he “retired” from the School of Medicine in 2000, he and his wife, Sarah Ellen, moved to Kenya full time—and they have continued their extraordinary service there. Joe served as AMPATH’s field director until 2012, when he moved into his current role of Field Director of Clinical Services for the AMPATH Consortium. Sarah Ellen continues to serve as associate program manager of the Sally Test Pediatric Center—which she founded—within Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Joe would probably be the first to point out that AMPATH’s success has been made possible by many people working in partnership. But it is also true that his vision, his integrity, his leadership over many years, and his dedicated hard work during what might have been a leisurely retirement have allowed the program to flourish. Those same qualities have also inspired countless others to dedicate themselves to AMPATH’s success.

I will now ask Joe to come forward, but, because we know that he prefers to avoid the spotlight, we have arranged for some special guests to accompany him to the stage.

Presenting the President’s Medal

Joe, for your vital contributions to the IU School of Medicine, to the AMPATH program, to the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS in Africa, and in recognition of all that you have done to advance global public health, it is my great pleasure to present you with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow: the President’s Medal for Excellence.

This medal is given to recognize exceptional distinction in public service, service to Indiana University, achievement in a profession, or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education, and industry.

Joe, in every one of these categories, your distinction has been extraordinary during your remarkable career.

So, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the trustees of Indiana University, and in gratitude for all that you have done to leverage the power and expertise of an academic health center in the interest of global health, I am privileged and honored to present you with the President’s Medal for Excellence.

Congratulations.

Source Notes

  1. Albin Korem, Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath, Traditional Wisdom in African Proverbs: 1915 Proverbs from 41 African Countries, (Publishing Trends Limited, 2004), 105.