Historical Background

Lighthouse Trust, a World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Centre of Excellence, works in close coordination with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to operate two large integrated HIV testing, treatment and care clinics in Lilongwe, Malawi: one on the campus of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) and another at Bwaila Hospital under the Lilongwe District Health Office.

In September 1997, independent initiatives were set up by staff members in the  Medical Department of Lilongwe Central Hospital (now known as Kamuzu Central Hospital), who saw the need for HIV and AIDS care and support, in both hospital patients and in their own communities. In1998, the idea was conceived of integrating existing services and initiatives into one centre, marking the inception of the Lighthouse concept. This idea received strong backup through a WHO supported Pro Test TB/HIV co-infection initiative. In that same year, a building that could potentially host the proposed centre was identified. The required funds for refurbishing a dilapidated guardian shelter into a functional, friendly care centre were awarded two years later.

The Lighthouse Trust was the first specialist centre in Malawi for the care and support of people living with HIV and AIDS, providing a comprehensive range of services for patients infected with HIV. The Lighthouse was registered as a public Trust  in 2001 to provide a continuum of quality care and counseling as well as to improve the quality of life of people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, including the terminally ill, in Lilongwe and beyond in Malawi. The Lighthouse was registered as a Trust to secure independent complementary funding to MOH and to function as an integral partner in Malawi's public health system.

Malawi's then Vice President, Dr Justin Malewezi, officially opened the Lighthouse Centre on 26 July 2002, demonstrating political commitment to the battle against HIV and AIDS in Malawi. . In 2002, Lighthouse was among the first public clinics to provide lifesaving ART for HIV-infected patients in Malawi under a cost sharing program that transitioned to free ART to all patients in 2004 under the Global Fund support to the Government of Malawi.

Source:  Phiri, S., & World Health Organization. (2004). The Lighthouse: A centre for comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment and care in Malawi: case study. Geneva: World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/prev_care/en/lighthouse.pdf)