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Life After Loss for Orphans in Africa (Podcast)

June 6, 2018



The majority of the world’s population lives in low-income countries with extremely limited access to mental health care. This gap is largest in African nations, which have the world’s lowest ratio of mental health professionals: just 1.4 per 100,000 people.

For more than a decade, a multinational team of researchers has been exploring ways to close that gap for nearly 50 million orphans in Africa who are grieving the loss of one or both parents. HIV/AIDS and respiratory infections are the leading cause of death.

Being orphaned predicts other problems – problems like substance abuse, dropping out of school, or unemployment. Orphans are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior that may lead to new cases of HIV -- and perpetuate a vicious circle.

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  • Images from the Ways & Means podcast including graphic of capitol building & the words "fraud"

    About Ways & Means

    The Ways & Means podcast was launched in late November, 2015. The podcast is hosted by the journalist Emily Hanford, and is produced at the Sanford School by a team with deep roots in public radio. Each episode weaves faculty research with stories from real people. Episodes are scripted and musically scored. 

    You can find Ways & Means on your favorite podcast apps including Apple PodcastsStitcher and NPR One.

With a new, five-year $3.4 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, the team led by professors Kathryn Whetten at Duke and Shannon Dorsey at the University of Washington is testing how to help orphans in the Bungoma, Kenya, region.

Their strategy? Train local people with no mental health background to provide Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) in schools and community health centers, under the supervision of lay supervisors. The goal is to develop a blueprint for scaling up such a program on a large scale.

Music: Theme music by David Schulman. Additional music by by Blue Dot Sessions.