Former US president Bill Clinton will on Friday launch a multi-million dollar hospital project in impoverished Malawi, where health care is dogged by poor facilities and a brain drain.
"Former president Clinton will perform a ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the modern hospital which will cost 70 million dollars," Local Government Minister George Chaponda told AFP Thursday.
The Clinton/Hunter Initiative for Development will bankroll the construction of the 80-bed hospital and 23 staff houses at Neno district, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of the commercial capital Blantyre, the minister said.
Clinton is also expected to hold private talks with President Bingu wa Mutharika at the hilltop Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, during his one-day visit, Chaponda added.
Malawi, where 60 percent of the 12 million citizens live below the poverty line of less than a dollar a day, faces an acute lack of health workers with around 120 registered nurses migrating to Britain and the United States every year in search of better salaries.
One nurse serves 50 patients in most hospital wards, and the doctor-patient ratio is 64,000 to one, according to a recent survey by the health ministry.
Malawi's mortality rate, currently at 984 per 100,000 live births, is the third highest in the world, after conflict-plagued Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.
One of Africa's poorest countries, Malawi is also battling HIV and AIDS which has affected around 14 percent of the population. There are about 80,000 AIDS-related deaths every year.