Dr. Anne Alaniz and Pothawira: Supporting Women’s Health in Malawi

By Maeve Ozimec, Direct Relief.
First published April 26, 2024 by Direct Relief.

Dr. Anne Alaniz cares for a newborn at Pothawira Birthing Center in Malawi. The center receives cancer therapies from Direct Relief, medical supplies to support safe births and other requested medicines to support care in the Salima region of Malawi. (Courtesy photo)

At the end of April, 2024, Dr. Anne Alaniz, a gynecological oncologist and founder of Pothawira International, spoke about her work in Malawi and her plans to build a new surgical center that will expand care for women in the region.

Direct Relief has supported Pothawira International with more than $5 million in oncology medications, midwife kits, which contain 50 essential items to facilitate safe births, and other requested medical aid. Pothawira, which translates to “Safe Haven,” includes an outpatient clinic, which sees 200 patients a day, and a birthing center, which is expected to exceed 500 deliveries in 2024.

A new surgical center, which will include four operating rooms, will enable safe cesarean deliveries, laparoscopic surgeries, radiology services, and more for women who need cancer treatments or are experiencing birth complications. Pothawira also operates an orphanage, primary school, and sustainability farm to support community needs.

Dr. Alaniz, originally from Malawi and who moved to the U.S. at 16, now practices medicine at Houston Methodist Hospital between her medical missions in Malawi. She spoke to a gathering of about 120 people in Montecito, California, this week to raise awareness about Pothawira International and Direct Relief’s Maternal and Child Health Programs in advance of Mother’s Day.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Alaniz and Pothawira International.

Watch this video from the Mobilizing Medical Missions Conference in 2023 to learn more about Dr. Alaniz and her work in Texas and Malawi:

Anne Alaniz, DO Co-Founder, Pothawira (Safe Haven) Christian Mission Organization, Malawi.
One Surgeon, Two Worlds: Navigating Life and Death Disparities in Women’s Healthcare between Malawi and the United States
How can one doctor make sense of and move forward effectively between two worlds that are vastly different in their ability to deliver healthcare to women? How can we be creative with available resources, mobilizing our individual capacities fully, and face these devastating discrepancies with grit, grace, optimism, and perseverance? Dr. Alaniz shares stories of devastation and hope as she navigates the healthcare disparities between her two worlds.

Listen to this podcast from Spark to Empower to learn about Dr. Alaniz’ life and what led her to found her hospital in Malawi:

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