The Pan-African Acupuncture Project trains health care workers in Africa to use acupuncture for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Have you ever wondered if one person can make a difference
in helping soothe the suffering of many? Acupuncturist Richard Mandell wondered
that very thing, and what he learned is making a huge difference in the lives
In 2001, Richard Mandell, L.Ac., was grappling with reports
of the AIDS epidemic in Africa. He began questioning how he could use his
acupuncture training to reduce people's suffering.
Mandell had read about a program in Guatemala that trained
local health care providers to provide treatment, and used it as a model for
Africa. His dream became the PanAfrican Acupuncture Project, a Boston-based
non-profit organization that trains health care workers in Africa to use simple
and effective acupuncture techniques to treat the devastating and debilitating
symptoms associated with HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Mandell now serves as the project's executive director. "In
a broader sense, our hope is to improve their quality of life, and to do that
by reducing their pain and suffering," Mandell says.
Building a Community of Healing
Since Mandell and his first team of trainers visited Uganda
in 2003, the organization has already trained more than 120 locals, including
nurses, medical doctors, midwives, and traditional healers.
"The people we train and the people who get treated have
very high expectations for success," Mandell says. "They know we wouldn't come
6,000 miles if we didn't believe acupuncture would help."
Although volunteer trainers pay their own expenses to
Uganda, they find the experience to be priceless. "They observe that even very
simple treatments provide rapid and often dramatic effects," Mandell says. "It
renews their faith in the power of acupuncture."
According to Mandell, most people felt better in one or two
treatments. "I have seen someone crawl onto the treatment table, and walk away
without a cane," he says. "Everyone who has come with me has seen these
seemingly miraculous cases."
Success Breeds Success
The PanAfrican Acupuncture Project is planting the seeds of
success in Uganda, and the positive impact of this empowering model continues
to grow. On a recent trip, six trainers from the United States and Canada
taught 34 Ugandan health care workers acupuncture techniques. Within two weeks,
the locals had treated more than 1,000 people.
Mandell encourages the trainers to learn from the locals as
well. He said that local health care workers tended to use many more needles,
and left them in much longer. "That's not how I was trained, but they get great
results," he says. "It's fascinating."
The program has been so successful that the government of
Malawi has requested a program, and Mandell is working with key contacts in
Kenya, Ethiopia, and several other African countries.
Individuals around the world contribute to the PanAfrican
Acupuncture Project, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. "People need to know
that the money they donate directly reduces pain and suffering," Mandell says.
The project depends on financial donations, as well as supplies and its
Still wondering if one person can make a difference? Ask
anyone involved in the PanAfrican Acupuncture Project.
For more information, visit www.panafricanacupuncture.org or
call (617) 277-7444.