Harry (M.D.) and Echo (PA-C) VanderWal are the founders and executive directors of The Luke Commission, a non-profit organization based in Swaziland, Africa.
In 2002, Harry was graduated from Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine. That year he was also inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha. In 2006, Harry completed the Combined Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency program at Wright State. Harry is double-board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.
Harry was honored by Wright State University in 2008 as the Young Alumnus of the Year. He currently serves as an Associate Professor at Boonshoft School of Medicine.
Echo attended physician assistant school at Kettering College of Medical Arts graduating in 2000 with distinction. She practiced surgery until the birth of the couple’s triplets and then practiced pediatrics while Harry finished his residency. Echo spent her childhood in Bonner County, and the couple’s stateside home is in Sagle.
Both Harry and Echo graduated with highest honors from Cedarville in 1996, each with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology. In 2011, Harry and Echo were honored by Cedarville University as Alumni of the Year.
The Luke Commission serves on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS and TB pandemics in Swaziland, a tiny country in southern Africa with the highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world. TLC is registered as non-profit in the United States and Swaziland.
Since lack of transportation is a critical barrier to rural populations receiving healthcare, the VanderWals have developed a mobile medical outreach model to deliver health services to remote communities.
Typically at each mobile hospital outreach more than 500 patients are treated. The Luke Commission team offers testing for chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, TB, and HIV/AIDS) in an integrated, healthcare context. The VanderWals’ comprehensive model encourages thousands of Swazis to face their HIV status each year, which typically carries stigma and fear.
Those who test positive are started on anti-retroviral drugs, when indicated, in collaboration with Swaziland’s Ministry of Health. This year, TLC launched a four-bed surgical unit. Adult male circumcisions, which has been proven to reduce HIV transmission by 60%, were performed on 943 men and boys.
More than 115,000 patients have been treated by The Luke Commission in 7 years. Another 39,000 with sight problems have received eyeglasses. All-terrain wheelchairs are given to disabled. Some 1.2 million packets of medications have been dispensed. Clothes and shoes have been fitted on 55,000 orphans and vulnerable children. In 2012, TLC added mobile digital x-ray to their expanding mobile, health services.
Harry and Echo live permanently in Swaziland with their 11-year-old triplet sons Luke, Jacob, and Zebadiah, 8-year-old son Zion, and 8-month-old daughter Hosanna.