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The Central Africa Medical Mission Collection

Identifier: S004
Records consist of documents relating to the overall work and mission of the Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM). Included are historical documents, brochures and flyers, minutes from various groups, including the Central Africa Medical Mission Committee, guidelines and reports relating to CAMM, and general correspondence.


  • 1958 - 1996


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restictions may apply. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


1 Box : 1 record box containing 19 file folders.

Biographical / Historical

In 1953, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) chose the bush country of Central Africa to begin its mission effort on the African continent. The first WELS missionaries to Africa quickly realized that in addition to their spiritual needs, the Africans were also in desperate need of physical help. This need to address the physical needs of Africans was taken to the WELS Convention in 1957, and that convention decided to establish a medical mission program. The Central Africa Medical Mission (CAMM) was born. The first medical dispensary was built near Mwembezhi, Zambia in 1961, and Miss Barbara Welch was the first American nurse to staff the dispensary.

The Mwembezhi Lutheran Dispensary was overwhelmed with sick Africans almost immediately. By 1963, as many as 3000 to 4000 people were seen each month. In 1970, CAMM expanded into Malawi with a mobile type of health care. The nurses were stationed in Lilongwe, Malawi and traveled to designated bush areas to set up a clinic for the day and return to Lilongwe by nightfall.

The work of CAMM continues to this day. Currently, healthcare in Malawi is delivered via a mobile clinic. There are four clinic sites around the capital city of Lilongwe, and each site is visited once each week. The current locations are the villages of Msambo, Suzi, Mwalaulomwe, and Thunga. The clinic buildings are used as churches on Sundays. The clinic staff consists of 6 national nurses and 1 agriculture/nutrition officer. There are 2 expatriate staff consisting of 2 nurses or 1 nurse and 1 administrator, as circumstances allow. 3,000 - 4,000 clinic visits are made each month. In 2007 over 39,000 women, men, and children were seen by the staff.

In Zambia, Healthcare is delivered via a stationary clinic, which is still located in Mwembezhi, outside the capital city of Lusaka. The clinic is managed by a clinical officer (CO) who is responsible for staff management, patient care, and daily administrative duties. The CO is assisted by 4 clinical staff and other nonprofessional staff. He also works closely with the local health district management board. A national pastor works with the staff and is able to provide spiritual guidance for them and the patients.

The Central Africa Medical Mission is a non-budgeted service of the WELS. This means that no money is allocated from the regular synodical budget. Instead, CAMM is supported by woman’s organizations, Christian Day Schools, Sunday schools, and individuals throughout the WELS.

Repository Details

Part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Archives Repository