Do you have a friend or relative turning 40 - or who has already turned 40?
If so, help them celebrate by joining us in sharing the Gift of 40!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gift of 40 Campaign in the Latest PIH Newsletter

Commuting in rural Lesotho.

Approximately one quarter of the country’s adult population is HIV-positive, and life expectancy in the tiny mountain kingdom—home to just under 2 million people—has plummeted since HIV entered the country in the 1980s. In addition, Lesotho’s people are being ravaged by a second epidemic, tuberculosis (TB). Lesotho’s TB rate is the fourth highest in the world, and people whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV are especially vulnerable to the disease. Approximately 76 percent of TB patients in Lesotho are co-infected with HIV. While people who reside in Lesotho’s major cities live, on average, to about 40, people residing in rural Lesotho—where PIH primarily works—are less likely to reach that marker. Consequently, nearly 20 percent of children living in Lesotho have lost their parents to either HIV or TB.

A group of Partners In Health (PIH) supporters—all bound by a common birth year, 1970—are working to change these statistics. These activists, many of who have never met in person, include journalists, academics, writers, and concerned parents. Together, they have launched the Gift of 40 Campaign.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mission Statement

The Gift of 40: A Social Media Project to Do Some Good
Each year, millions of people around the world celebrate their 40th birthday with a party and a smile. But for far too many others, in places like Lesotho in southern Africa, the average life expectancy does not reach or exceed 40. That’s why a small group of people born in 1970 created the Gift of 40 campaign. Launched on August 2, 2010 with the simple mission of using social media and other means to reach out to people everywhere turning 40 (and the people who love them), Gift of 40 invites you to celebrate this milestone by providing support to the Boston-based Partners In Health (PIH) Lesotho Project, which works with poor communities in Lesotho to combat disease and poverty.

40 As a Milestone
Most people are surprised when they hear they are outliving the average life expectancy anywhere. And yet, sadly, it is the case for millions of people in a handful of developing nations, including Lesotho. In the developed world, and in particular in American popular media, turning 40 is often depicted as a marker of middle age. Reaching 40 is rarely described in the historically accurate terms we believe it ought to be -- as an achievement by individuals and the societies in which we live. And it's not just an achievement, it's a gift. Like other gifts, we believe it is one best shared. Not only does Gift of 40 aim to raise funds for PIH's Lesotho Project from people around the world, it also serves to remind people that it is truly a gift to live to 40 and beyond.

Facts about Lesotho
A small, land-locked mountain kingdom with just over 2 million inhabitants, Lesotho (pronounced 'lih-SOO-too') is completely surrounded by South Africa. In recent years the average life expectancy in Lesotho has dropped below 40 years. Life expectancy estimates there range from 35 to 40. Nearly 1 in 4 adults in Lesotho has HIV/AIDS, believed to be the world's third highest prevalence of HIV infection. The people of Lesotho also suffer from widespread tuberculosis, including many strains that are drug-resistant. And the infant mortality rate is greater than 1 for every 13 live births. Over time, the Gift of 40 Campaign expects to have a direct impact upon the lives of the people PIH serves in Lesotho and turn these statistics around.

Facts about Partners In Health (PIH)
The Boston-based not-for-profit organization Partners in Health, founded in 1987, has as its mission "to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care." With widely praised model programs in some of the poorest areas on the globe, PIH launched its Lesotho Project in 2006. Focusing on the poorest rural areas of the nation, PIH follows a community-based health care model, doing everything from building and staffing medical facilities to training doctors to providing life-saving food and medicine to those in need. Your support to PIH through the Gift of 40 Campaign will go directly to fund PIH's programs in Lesotho.

The Math is Simple
For every 400 people who each get 40 people to donate $40 to PIH, the Gift of 40 Campaign will have raised $640,000 for PIH's Lesotho Project. Any multiples of any of those "40" numbers and we will greatly increase our ability to do some good. Of course, we encourage everyone to give whatever they can to this worthy cause, and to spread the word.

Donations may be made in any currency and in three easy ways - on PIH's Gift of 40 page online via credit cards or Pay Pal, by check or by wire transfer. Go to, click the "click here to Donate" button and follow instructions. If you'd like to donate by check, write "Gift of 40" in the memo line and mail the checks to Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578.

What you Can Do
By joining social media, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other platforms, we encourage people to reach out to their networks, especially those turning 40 that year, and share the Gift of 40 with them. Our aim is that as individuals and institutions mark their 40th birthdays and anniversaries, they will incorporate support for the Gift of 40 into their celebrations, making the milestone even more meaningful.

Who Are We
We are journalists, lawyers, academics, writers, concerned citizens, parents - people whose life expectancies average double that of the people of Lesotho. We believe that the tools of modern technology matched with a good idea and a worthy cause are all that is needed to change the world for the better. Gift of 40 and its volunteers do not collect, distribute or receive any donated funds. Gift of 40 is nothing more than a coalition of people like you spreading the word to our networks, and their networks, about the dire situation in Lesotho and encouraging people to give directly to PIH's Lesotho Project. It is our hope and aim that, in the coming years, the people of Lesotho will be living healthier, longer lives, and we can focus our attention there on the Gift of 50.

PLEASE NOTE: It was important to the core group that came together that none of us have any connections to the eventual cause we decided to support and that none of us had any connection to the organization we'd be partnering with. We settled on the Lesotho cause in part because none of us had any connections there (we did not even know how to pronounce the country's name when we began) and we decided to work with PIH because of its excellent work in the Haiti quake's aftermath. We had to use social media - LinkedIn in particular - to find people we knew to introduce us to people they knew at PIH.

Gift of 40 is a portal and is otherwise not affiliated with PIH. PIH is solely responsible for the collection, handling and disbursement of all donated funds collected as a result of any use of this portal. Gift of 40 receives no compensation or benefit in providing this portal, and disclaims all warranties, express or implied.

PIH in Lesotho

PIH’s (Partners In Health) project in Lesotho is the second in Africa and the first in a country suffering from an extremely high prevalence of HIV. One-quarter of Lesotho’s adult population is HIV-positive. Lesotho also has the fourth highest reported TB incidence in the world, as well as one of the world’s highest rates of HIV-TB coinfection.

The government invited PIH to Lesotho in 2006 to bring testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS to remote rural areas. Launched at a single clinic in Nohana, PIHL’s rural initiative has expanded to seven clinics in four mountain districts. As of June 2010, the PIH supported clinics have counseled and tested more than 40,000 individuals for HIV, and provide lifesaving antiretroviral therapy for more than 4,000 HIV-positive adults and children. All of this takes place in the context of providing comprehensive primary care services to more than 300,000 people.

In 2007, responding to the extremely high rates of HIV/TB coinfection and the growing threat of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), PIHL created the first community-based MDR-TB program in the nation. As part of that project PIHL renovated an old leprosy treatment facility, turning it into a state of the art MDR-TB hospital for critically ill patients, with its own laboratory and pharmacy. Working with the Ministry of Health, the community-based MDR-TB program supports 456 patients as of June 2010.

Both initiatives are based on the community-based approach employed successfully by PIH in Haiti, Peru, Rwanda, and Boston. More than 1,000 local residents currently work and receive training as village health workers to visit HIV and TB patients in their homes on a daily basis to accompany them in their treatment and serve as a crucial link between the health clinics and the communities they serve.

The waiting area outside a clinic

Services delivered by PIHL (PIH-Lesotho) include clinical support, training for nurses and village health workers, medications, treatment for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, comprehensive primary care, maternal/child health services and psychosocial and socioeconomic support – including food aid.

Country Information
  • Total population: Less than 2 million
  • Population living on <$2/day: 62.2%
  • Life expectancy at birth: Estimates range from 36-40
  • Child mortality: 79 per 1,000 live births
  • Adult prevalence of HIV: 23%
  • Prevalence of TB: 490 per 100,000
  • TB patients coinfected with HIV: 76%
  • Maternal mortality: 964 per 100,000 live births
  • Number of orphans: 160,000 (17% of children under age 16)
  • Patients tested for HIV by PIH: > 40,000 as of June 2010
  • HIV patients enrolled on ART: >4,000 as of March 2010
  • Primary care: >221,000 individual clinic visits as of June 2010
  • Pediatric care: 37% of all primary care visits under the age of 14
  • MDR-TB patients under treatment: 456 as of June 2010
  • Active community health workers and MDR-TB treatment supporters: > 1,000
  • Households receiving food aid: 1,445 in June 2010
  • Orphans receiving education, food and medical support: >100 as of June 2010

PIHL supports and runs hospitals and health centers in these communities:

Nohana, Bobete, Nkau, Lebakeng, Tlhanyaku, Methalaneng, ManamanengPIHL also runs the national MDR-TB treatment program, which includes the Botsabelo MDR-TB Hospital in Maseru