Voluntarism and community involvement are both integral components of AIHA’s partnership programs.
The voluntary nature of our model is not only highly cost-effective, it also fosters long-term commitments between the institutions, cities, and individuals who work together as peers to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. That’s why so many of the personal and professional relationships forged through our partnerships continue to thrive on variety of levels well beyond the funding period.
Sometimes the term “volunteer” can be a little misleading, though.
At AIHA, our volunteers aren’t fresh out of college and looking to gain their first experiences in global health. They’re seasoned health and allied care professionals, many with 30+ years of hands-on experience and practical knowledge that they are eager to share with their peers in the developing world.
Read about some of our amazing volunteers below and you’ll quickly understand why we’re proud to call them our AIHA rock stars!
Theresa Kaijage, PhD, MSW, MPH
Education: PhD in Social Work and Masters of Public Health from the University of Pittsburgh; Master’s Degree in Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis; BA in Education from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Clinical Expertise/Special Skills: HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment, social work, public health
AIHA Partnerships:The Tanzania Social Work and OVC Support Initiative (2006-present)
Theresa J. Kaijage, MSW, MPH, PhD, is a well-known social worker who advocates for those infected with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. Dr. Kaijage works to raise awareness about the disease and tries to assuage the negative social implications that accompany the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Dr. Kaijage is currently the co-director at Kaijage Consultants for African Family Health. is also the founder and director of the Tanzanian NGO, WAMATA, which educates and provides counseling services to those with HIV/AIDS.
She is also the founder and director of the Tanzanian NGO, Walio Katika Mapambano Na AIDS Tanzania (WAMATA), which means “People in the fight against AIDS in Tanzania.” WAMATA is a grassroots organization that provides HIV/AIDS prevention and control intervention, care, and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers, and services to HIV/AIDS orphans. WAMATA has several branches throughout Tanzania and has received funding from the Clinton Foundation and the Global Fund. Dr. Kaijage has also worked with families where inequities in gender relations and disparities in health are areas of great concern.
Dr. Kaijage began her career as a school teacher in Tanzania, from there she became a Fulbright Scholar. After losing many friends and family members to HIV/AIDS, she saw a trend in the familial and social ostracism that accompanied the grim diagnosis. It was then that the vision of WAMATA emerged.
Dr. Kaijage now dedicates her life to those with HIV/AIDS. She has become a vital component in the battle to educate people in an effort to reduce the spread of HIV in Africa. She played an especially important role in the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Summit. During the UNAIDS Summit, where she proposed that mothers who are HIV positive should not breastfeed, but they should find alternate methods of feeding their infant. This caused great stir among global health leaders who advocate that breastfeeding is the best way of feeding infants in developing nations, even if the mother is HIV positive. This did not resonate well with Dr. Kaijage and she tried very hard to change this. In 1997, UNICEF and WHO changed the guidelines on breastfeeding. Now mothers with HIV are advised to avoid breastfeeding when alternate means of nourishing the infant are acceptable, feasible, safe, affordable, and sustainable.
Joseph R. Masci, M.D.
Profession: Professor of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Director of Medicine, Elmhurst Hospital Center
Education: MD, NYU School of Medicine, BA in Biology, Cornell University. Advanced studies in Internal Medicine, Boston City Hospital and Infectious Diseases, Mount Sinai Medical Center
Clinical Expertise/Special Skills: HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment, general infectious diseases, tropical medicine, emergency preparedness
AIHA Partnerships: Debre Berhan Referral Hospital / Elmhurst Hospital Center (2007-2014); Orenburg AIDS Center / Elmhurst Hospital Center (2004-2008); AIHA Russia HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care, and Support Initiative (2008-2012)
Dr. Masci is the Director of the Department of Medicine at Elmhurst Hospital Center. After completing his internship and residency in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital and fellowship in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai, Dr. Masci joined the Mount Sinai School of Medicine faculty at Elmhurst Hospital.
In collaboration with a team of physicians, nurses, and social workers, he founded the multidisciplinary HIV/AIDS clinic and program at Elmhurst in 1985 and has served as medical director of HIV services for Elmhurst and, subsequently, the Queens Health Network since that time.
He has written extensively about HIV infection and its complications and has conducted a number of clinical research projects related to HIV. His book Outpatient Management of HIV Infection was published in its fourth edition in 2011. He has served in a variety of planning and leadership roles with the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute and the New York City HIV Planning Council, and has spoken frequently to professional and lay groups about AIDS. For his work in HIV care he has received the Human Services Award from the Office of the Mayor of New York and the Dr. Linda Laubenstein HIV Clinical Excellence Award from the New York State Department of Health.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Dr. Masci became involved in emergency preparedness at the hospital, city, and state level. He served on a variety of planning bodies and was the chairman of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation emergency preparedness council from 2002 through 2010. He received the President’s Award from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation for this work and co-authored a textbook, Bioterrorism. A Guide for Hospital Preparedness in 2005.
Dr. Masci directed two AIHA partnership projects, one in Russia and one in Ethiopia. In these projects, teams of physicians, nurses, social workers and other staff from Elmhurst Hospital have conducted technical assistance exchange visits focused on HIV care and hospital management. For this work, Dr. Masci received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as the Ruth Abramson Idealism in Medicine Award from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Dr. Masci has been involved in teaching and curriculum development at the medical school, residency and fellowship level since joining the faculty and has received a number of awards from the medical housestaff, the medical school, the department of medicine and the Mount Sinai Institute for Medical Education.
Girma Tefera, M.D.
Profession: Professor, Division of Vascular Surgery at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Education: MD, University of Pisa Faculty of Medicine. Advanced studies in Trauma, Field Kirsh Hospital and Vascular Surgery, University of Wisconsin Hospital. Post graduate training in general surgery, Friedrich Stadt Hospital and residency in general surgery, Howard University Hospital.
Clinical Expertise/Special Skills: Vascular surgery, with special interests in aortic aneurysm treatment with endovascular stent grafts and angioplasty of peripheral arteries including carotid artery, illiac and superficial femoral artery.
AIHA Partnerships: Addis Ababa University School of Medicine / University of Wisconsin at Madison (2009 – Present)
Dr. Tefera is a vascular surgeon and professor of surgery, department of surgery, University of Wisconsin (UW) Hospital and Clinics, Madison. He is also vice-chair, division of vascular surgery and chief of vascular surgery, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison. Dr. Tefera specializes in minimally invasive vascular interventions, including stent grafts for complex aortic aneurysm treatment, as well as percutaneous treatments of carotid arteries and vascular diseases of the lower extremity.
In pursuing a surgical career, Dr. Tefera took the road less traveled. He grew up in Chencha, a small town of fewer than 5,000 people in southern Ethiopia, as one of seven children. At the age of 12, he left home to enroll in high school 22 miles away, and at age 15, he was admitted to a college preparatory school 400 miles from home. After graduating at the top of his class, he was one of six Ethiopian students offered a full scholarship at the University of Pisa Medical School, Italy. After graduating in 1982, he returned to war-torn Ethiopia, where he worked for five years as a general practitioner, primarily in the Armed Forces General Hospital, department of surgery, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Asmara, Eritrea. These experiences with treating injuries on the battlefield strengthened his surgical skills as well as his resolve as a surgeon.
As war continued to ravage his homeland, the Ethiopian government resisted his efforts to leave. In 1988, he seized an opportunity for a surgical residency at Krankenhouse Friedrickstadt in Dresden, East Germany. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, he continued with his surgical training, where he gained a general surgery certification in 1992.
He emigrated to the U.S., where he sought refuge from the conflicts of his homeland. This move proved to be deeply challenging. “It is hard to relate the difficulties a foreign graduate faces to get in to surgical residency,” he said. He persisted and was admitted into a residency program at Howard University Hospital, Washington, DC, and in 1999, began a vascular surgery fellowship at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, followed by his work as a faculty member.
Pamela A. Thompson, MS, RN, FAAN, CENP
Education: She received her MS from the University of Rochester in New York and her BS from the University of Connecticut
Clinical Expertise/Special Skills: Health Leadership, Education and Training, Nursing
AIHA Partnerships: Mozambican National Nursing Association (ANEMO) / St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing at Moravian College (2008 – 2012)
Pamela A. Thompson, MS, RN, FAAN, is the senior vice president for nursing for the American Hospital Association and the chief executive officer of the American Organization of Nurse Executives. In her AHA role, she is responsible for coordination of the AHA Workforce Initiative and addressing issues specific to nursing and patient care. For AONE, which has offices in Washington, DC, and Chicago, she is responsible for the overall leadership and administrative operations of the AONE professional association, which represents more than 8,000 nurses in executive and leadership practice.
Prior to joining AONE and AHA, Pam was vice president for the Children’s Hospital, Obstetrics, Psychiatric Services, and Strategic Planning at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH.
She has long been involved in state and national association work. She served as president of the New Hampshire Organization of Nurse Executives. She was also chair of the board of trustees of the New Hampshire Hospital Association and the New Hampshire Foundation. She served as a national board member of AONE. She serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Patient Safety Foundation, and formerly was on its Board of Directors and served as Chair of the Board.
Pam is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Her personal passion is her international work with colleagues in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Africa.
Nathan Linsk, PhD
Education: PhD and AM, University of Chicago and BA, University of Minnesota
Clinical Expertise/Special Skills: Health Practice, HIV/AIDS Social Work Challenges, Doctoral Proseminar on Program Evaluation, and Aging Process and Planning
AIHA Partnerships: Addis Ababa University School of Social Work/ Jane Addams College of Social Work and Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center, University of Illinois – Chicago (2007 – 2012) Nigeria Social Work and OVC Support Initiative (2008-2014) The Tanzania Social Work and OVC Support Initiative (2006 – Present) and Zambia Rising (2013-present)
Nathan L. Linsk, Ph. D. Professor of Social Work in Family Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Emeritus Professor, Jane Addams College of Social Work. Linsk founded the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center in 1988 and currently is co-Investigator; previously he helped found and was Principal Investigator of the Great Lakes Addictions Technology Transfer Center. His research areas include HIV, long term care, family care, older adults and HIV, medication adherence issues and health professional training. Dr. Linsk has helped developed social work educational programs, case management programs and para-social work training for orphans and vulnerable children in several countries including the US, Romania, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. He has led two HIV Twinning Center projects partnering the Jane Addams College of Social Work and the Institute of Social Work in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Addis Ababa University School of Social Work to develop competencies for para-professionals to provide basic social services to vulnerable children and adults who are HIV affected. Dr. Linsk is founding co-Editor of the Journal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services, 2001-2014. He has been an active Advisory Committee member for the National Association of Social Workforce SPECTRUM mental health and HIV project and currently also serves on the steering committee of the Global Social Service Workforce Alliance.
Professor Khaya Mfenyana
Education: Master of Arts in Educational Administration, Michigan State University, Master’s Degree in Family Medicine (M Prax Med), Medunsa, Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery, Natal, South Africa Bachelor of Science (BSc), Fort Hare, South Africa South African Teachers’ Diploma (SATD), Fort Hare
Clinical Expertise/Special Skills: Professor Mfenyana’s current research interest is in community-based education and service-learning.
AIHA Partnerships: Walter Sisulu University / University of Colorado – Denver (2010 – Present)
Professor Khaya Mfenyana did a teacher’s diploma and B.Sc degree at Fort Hare. He did MBChB at the University of Natal and a Master’s Degree in Family Medicine at Medunsa. He was awarded a Fellowship by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to do a Masters Degree in Educational Administration at Michigan State University in USA from 1994 – 1996.
Professor Mfenyana worked as a Medical Practitioner in the former Transkei at Mthatha, Mount Frere and Cala from 1978 – 1986 and then at Medunsa and Ga Rankuwa Hospital as a Senior Lecturer and Principal Medical Officer from 1987 – 1988. He then was appointed as the first Professor and Head of the Department of Family Medicine at the then University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University) and Mthatha Hospital Complex from 1989 – 2005. Professor Mfenyana has championed community-based education at this institution and this has made Walter Sisulu University the first medical school in South Africa to introduce a curriculum that embraces problem-based learning and community-based education as the main learning strategies from the first to final year. Professor Mfenyana became the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the former University of Transkei at the beginning of 2005 and then served as Interim Vice Principal of Walter Sisulu University from July 2005 to December 2007. He was then appointed as the first Substantive Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Walter Sisulu University in January 2008 to date.
He has served in many committees in and outside the university. He is currently a member of the College of Family Practice within the Colleges of Medicine in South Africa, the Vice President of the South African Academy of Family Practice, the President of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) for Africa Region and a member of the Wonca World Executive. He is an Inspector for the accreditation of hospitals for Internship Training in South Africa on behalf of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Within the HPCSA, he is a member of the sub committee for Undergraduate Medical Education and Training, a committee he has been serving since 1997 to date. He was involved in the development of the accreditation guidelines for Undergraduate Medical Education and Training in South Africa. Professor Mfenyana was part of an accreditation panel of experts that visited the National University of Rwanda from 28 June to 4 July 2008.
Professor Mfenyana has published in peer reviewed journals in South Africa and abroad. He has also contributed a chapter in the current Handbook of Family Medicine in South Africa. He has also presented many papers at conferences in South Africa and abroad. Professor Mfenyana’s current research interest is in community-based education and service-learning.
He is married and has four children.