John Oliver, Daily Show regular, headlined at New York’s Comix Comedy Club to raise money for the training of desperately needed health workers in Tanzania on March 5.

Other performers at ‘A Touch of Laughter’ were Karith Foster of Imus in the Morning, Comedy Central’s Tom Shillue, Baron Vaughn – who appeared at the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival – and Nathaniel Bryan, formerly of the Opie and Anthony Show.

‘A Touch of Laughter’ was a benefit for the Touch Foundation, an organization that provides funds for the training of medical, nursing and medical technician students at Weill Bugando medical university and teaching hospital in Tanzania. Physicians, nurses and all other health care workers are desperately needed in the fight against diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The medical university has already grown from just 10 students in 2004 to over 800 today, but many more are needed.

In Tanzania there is a serious shortage of health care workers. There are fewer than 1,000 doctors in Tanzania – only one for every 30,000 people compared to New York City where there is one doctor for every 200 people – leaving many to die from diseases that are preventable, treatable, and curable. Since 2004, the Touch Foundation has worked to identify innovative solutions to this complex health problem in sub-Saharan Africa, using Tanzania as a base.

Heather Prince, who coordinated the event, said “Clearly the health crisis in Africa is no laughing matter. But money raised here can provide greater access to medical care in Africa and that is something to smile about”.

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