USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Health

Zimbabwe’s Great Leap Toward Preventing HIV in Children

Photo Caption: Josephat was born HIV-negative because of PMTCT in Zimbabwe, and recently celebrated his fifth birthday. Photo Credit: EGPAF/James Pursey

As featured on the Huffington Post

This week, I witnessed a milestone in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in children — and it happened in Zimbabwe.

Much of the news from Zimbabwe over the past decade has been around political and economic challenges, overshadowing a resounding public health success story.

Zimbabwe is one of the key countries to watch in the drive to eliminate pediatric AIDS in Africa.

On Monday, I attended a ceremony at Harare Central Hospital to launch Zimbabwe’s national strategy to prevent new pediatric HIV infections. I joined representatives from government, international partners, donors, health workers and people living with HIV.

It was a diverse group, but all dedicated to a common cause — that no child should be born with HIV — not in Zimbabwe, nor in any other country.

In June 2011 at the United Nations, a Global Plan was introduced to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015. Zimbabwe was among the first of many countries to answer the call, but its commitment on this issue was evident long before that.

Read the rest of this entry »

PMTCT and 5th Birthdays: Not Without the Mothers

The prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV is taking center stage this week during USAID’s 5th Birthday campaign — and rightly so.  Preventing mother to child transmission of HIV is one of the most critical, effective tools to helping kids reach their fifth birthdays.

Ambassador Eric Goosby and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé have called for the elimination of pediatric HIV by 2015. Touted as one of the HIV prevention interventions with the most “bang for our buck” by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, there is significant momentum behind continuing scale up of mother to child transmission reduction programming towards elimination of mother to child transmission. But, current recommendations requiring a CD4 test before initiating some sort of ARV prophylaxis for HIV-infected pregnant women may not be the most effective way to prevent MTCT, fully treat the mother, and help kids reach their 5th birthdays.

We can move closer to the goal of eliminating pediatric HIV by 2015 by treating the mother, treating the baby, and continuing to treat the mother.

Read the rest of this entry »

Winning the Fight Against HIV in Children

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Originally published at Blog.AIDS.gov.

Over thirty years ago, when the fight against HIV first began, the outlook for tackling the pandemic was bleak. Across the world, AIDS was seen as a death sentence. Within just a few years, it had devastated communities from the United States to South Africa.

But the world continued to fight, and the past three decades have seen tremendous progress in HIV research, prevention and treatment, thanks in large part to the leadership of the United States. Today, we can build on that strong legacy to answer President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s call for an AIDS-free generation.

The 19th International AIDS Society (IAS) conference will be an opportunity to renew our commitment to this incredible goal. It also marks an historic moment, as the United States hosts the conference for the first time in over 20 years now that people living with HIV and AIDS are able to visit the U.S. to attend in-person.

We know that we have a long way to go to win the fight against HIV–especially for children.

Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)–the largest international commitment to a single disease by any individual country–the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other U.S. government agencies provide lifesaving HIV and AIDS services to millions of children, women, and families worldwide. 

Read the rest of this entry »

This Week at the 65th World Health Assembly (WHA)

The 65th World Health Assembly (WHA) took place in Geneva and reflected on a decade of progress in global health, particularly in maternal and child health, uncertainty in the current economic climate, new challenges like non-communicable diseases and a sense of urgency to improve health systems.

Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez at the World Health Assembly. Photo Credit: USAID

Dr. Margaret Chan was elected for a second five-year term as Director-General of WHO. She is a dynamic leader and a champion for women and child health. In her plenary address, she described universal health coverage, the theme of this year’s WHA, as the single most powerful concept in public health.

In the past, I made the case for health reform to control rapidly growing out-of-pocket expenditures. This message is coming from partner countries as well: sixty countries have requested technical assistance in health finance to shape more efficient and equitable health systems.

An optimistic WHA called for the introduction of new vaccines as well as ensuring support for basic immunization as part of the Global Vaccine Plan. With the global polio campaign facing a “now or never” moment, WHO is launching an Emergency Action Plan. WHA also endorsed a Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reliable Family Planning Supply Chain Delivers Better Health and Prosperity to Ethiopian Families

“I started using contraceptives after I gave birth to my second child,” said Birtukan Bezabih, a 25-year-old married mother of three in southern Ethiopia. “I did not know that I was pregnant with my second child until [he] started moving inside my womb.  It was just a few months after I gave birth to my first child…so my first child didn’t get proper care and he was not well breast fed.”

Nurse Haileshet Bekele at Tulla Health Center counsels Birtukan Bezabih, a mother of three. Photo Credit: USAID

Access to family planning empowers couples, like Birtukan and her husband, to plan and maintain healthier families. After the challenge of breastfeeding her first child and carrying her second at the same time, Birtukan turned to family planning methods to choose the right time to bring a third child into her life.

In Ethiopia, the Ministry of Health is committed to improving access to family planning through programs that have benefitted countless women and families to date. During the past six years, Ethiopia has seen a rapid increase in contraceptive use and a decline in the average number of births per woman. From 2005 to 2011, the percent of reproductive-age women using contraceptives in Ethiopia nearly doubled, from 15 to 29 percent. In the same period, the average number of children born to Ethiopian women declined from 5.4 to 4.8. By having fewer children by choice and ensuring children are spaced a healthy distance apart, mothers in Ethiopia are able to care better for the children they have, helping more children reach their fifth birthdays.

Read the rest of this entry »

Community Mobilization

I accompanied our Mission Director on a field trip to northeastern Madagascar in January 2012, where a USAID partner, Santenet2, is implementing a mother and child health and family planning program.

One of the villages that we visited was Amboanio, where poverty is rampant after the closing of a cement factory that used to provide jobs to the local people.  Amboanio is in a remote, poor rural area where access to health care is more than inadequate: the nearest health center is 5km away, and the main hospital another 40km from there.

Marie-Ange and her son Bertrand Photo Credit: Bruno Rasamoel, USAID/Madagascar

In 2010, the USAID-funded Santenet2 program launched a community-based system that helps to identify danger signs in pregnant women and newborn children. It also arranges for their medical evacuation in case of an emergency.

One of the first beneficiaries of this system in the village was Marie-Ange, a fisherman’s wife, who was pregnant in 2010 and started having labor pains when she was in her eighth month of pregnancy. “In March 2010, I was pregnant again with my child—this one, Bertrand. I had a miscarriage two years ago. My water broke but then labor stopped.  The community health worker took me to the local health center—it’s a one-hour walk—where the chief physician recommended that I go to the hospital. My father and the Mayor arranged for transportation up to the central hospital,” she said. Marie-Ange was evacuated to the main hospital, using a rural bus paid by the community through a social solidarity fund. She went straight into the operating room, and her life and her baby’s was saved.

This community-based emergency medical evacuation plan, established under USAID/Santenet2’s “obstetrical and neonatal care” program, works through a Solidarity Fund that is run by a Social Development Committee (SDC). Participating village residents contribute a small amount on a monthly basis. The Fund pays for necessary medical evacuations, using rural taxis called taxi-brousse. One member of the SDC, Samsoudine Ben Said, said: “I’m the Deputy Mayor of Amboanio, and at the same time a member of the Social Development Committee (SDC) that is comprised of representatives of the community at all levels, I mean villages, churches, transporters, local dignitaries. I want to make it clear that referring a patient to the hospital is a decision to be made solely by the physician at the health center. There’s no fixed amount for financial contributions to the solidarity fund. Those who have more money contribute more, and those with less money contribute less.” The SDC enters into an agreement with local transporters that provide regular transportation services between the commune and the main town. Fuel is paid out of the solidarity fund, and the patient reimburses after she is healed.

It is very simple: Marie-Ange’s life was saved thanks to community mobilization. The entire community is now much more aware of the need for emergency services and advance planning.

USAID’s FrontLines – June/July 2012

frontlines banner graphic

Esther Ouma with her son, Barrack, in the Busia district of western Kenya. After losing her first two babies, Ouma successfully delivered Barrack after a visit from a community health worker who provided a link to health services and support groups available to expectant mothers in some Kenyan communities. “I will forever be grateful,” says Ouma, who attributes her good health and that of her child to the health worker’s intervention.  Photo credit: Bibianne Situma, AMREF

Read the latest edition of USAID’s premier publication, FrontLines, to learn more about the Agency’s work on issues surrounding child survival and its portfolio of projects in Ethiopia. Some highlights:

  • Efforts to end preventable child deaths are in their last lap and on a sure path to victory, says USAID’s top doc in the Bureau for Global Health.
  • The Swaziland parents who decide to have their newborn baby boys circumcised are part of a worldwide effort to achieve an HIV-free generation sooner rather than later.
  • UNICEF Chief Anthony Lake has seen firsthand the resourcefulness of this planet’s youngest citizens in the midst some of its worst disasters.
  • Find out why, despite one of the region’s worst droughts last year, the perpetually battered country of Ethiopia escaped the season with no famine.
  • A truce between four groups of people from Ethiopia’s Somali and Oromiya regional states who held longstanding grievances appears to have ushered in an unprecedented period of peace and an end to violent – and sometimes deadly – clashes.
  • Though Earth Day celebrations ended in April, USAID’s work to protect the environment continues 365 days a year. See that work through photos that won the 2012 environment photo contest put on by FrontLines and the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment as well as those that came in as runners-up.

Subscribe to FrontLines for an email reminder when the latest issue is posted online.

Modeling Potential Impact on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day

Throughout my career, I have witnessed the tremendous power of vaccines to prevent sickness and save lives – delivering incredible victories for humanity against diseases such as polio, smallpox and measles. These vaccines would not have been possible without the inspiration, persistence and courage of researchers, volunteers and health workers around the world.

Thanks to a USAID-supported program, Gladys Njeri Macharia is studying how rare individuals might be blocking HIV infection Photo credit: IAVI

And so today, on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, I join countless others around the world in reflecting on what it would mean to see AIDS consigned to a list of former pandemics. To achieve that goal, it is essential that we enlist the participation of researchers around the world in the design and development of HIV vaccines.

Young researchers such as Gladys Njeri Macharia in Kenya – who has dedicated her career to exploring immune responses to HIV – will play an especially important role in that effort. And one day, critical scientific questions addressed by this research might help lead to an effective vaccine.

New modeling data available today from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and the Futures Institute, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), illustrates how a safe, preventive HIV vaccine that is accessible and affordable can help us end the AIDS pandemic. This information is available in a series of publications and an interactive web tool.

The potential impact of a vaccine is striking. Because HIV is so extraordinarily resistant to the immune response, it is highly unlikely that any single vaccine will be able to prevent infection by all variants of the virus. Still, our modeling shows that if an AIDS vaccine that is only 50% effective is introduced in 2020 to 30% of the population in low- and middle-income countries, 5.2 million new HIV infections could be averted over the first decade. Higher efficacy and more coverage would have an even greater impact on the pandemic.

The world must continue to scale up and improve the response to HIV by using powerful prevention tools that are currently at our disposal. These include condoms, treatment and voluntary medical male circumcision. Our new models show that a vaccine can build on these existing tools and take us down the last mile to the end of the AIDS pandemic.

Margaret McGlynn is the President and CEO of IAVI Photo credit: Sara Mayti/IAVI

A 50% effective vaccine combined with greater use of current HIV-prevention tools could prevent nearly 20 million new HIV infections by 2030 – 20 million people that would not need to face the physical, emotional and social hardships caused by the disease and could avoid lifelong, daily antiretroviral treatment to stave off AIDS-related illness or death.

This HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, IAVI and our partners remember those we have lost to AIDS, gain inspiration from those living with and combating the disease today, and look forward to building on the incredible momentum of recent discoveries and study results to deliver on the tremendous potential of an AIDS vaccine.

To access IAVI and the Futures Institute’s impact modeling publications and interactive modeling tool, visit www.iavi.org/impact.

Expanding Access to Quality Education and Improved Health Care in the West Bank’s “Area C”

I recently had the opportunity to visit a construction site in Jalazone, just outside of Ramallah in the West Bank, where the U.S. Government is partnering with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in cooperation with Palestinian and Israeli officials, to build a school that will provide a safe and vastly improved learning environment for more than 1,100 girls.

Once completed, the school will provide an enhanced learning environment for more than 1,100 girls. Photo Credit: Lubna Rifi

Jalazone is located in what is known as “Area C,” an area that comprises approximately 60 percent of the West Bank and is under Israeli administrative and security control, in accordance with the terms of the Oslo Accords. The expansion work on the Jalazone School, which includes building 23 new modern classrooms, science labs, vocational training rooms, and all the facilities of a functioning school, is part of U.S. efforts, underway for some time, working closely with the Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials, to improve access to essential services for Palestinians living in “Area C.”

While visiting the construction site, UNRWA’s West Bank Field Director Felipe Sanchez and I spoke with the Principal at the school, Sana Bayyari. She explained how much she and her students and teachers are looking forward to moving from the current school’s overcrowded and run-down classrooms to what will effectively be a fully renovated school by March 2013. These renovations will significantly improve the educational environment at the school, originally built in the 1950s. Principal Bayyari also noted that they are especially excited that they will no longer have to attend school in double shifts as they have been doing for years to accommodate all of the students.

Read the rest of this entry »

Caryl Stern: Join us to help every child achieve a fifth birthday

This originally appeared on UNICEF’s Field Notes.

A child’s fifth birthday is a joyful moment for most parents, a milestone marking the passage out of early childhood into the world of pre-K and grade school and upward and onward.

Caryl M. Stern, President & Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, at age 5. Photo Credit: UNICEF

It signifies the end of a wonderful period, though sometimes a tough one. After the candles are blown out and all the presents opened, more than a few parents have taken a deep breath, looked each other in the eyes, and said,” Wow, we survived.”

Of course, in much of the world, the fifth birthday marks a different kind of milestone — one sometimes greeted with an entirely different sentiment: “my child survived.” That’s because in so many places, for so many beautiful children, just reaching age five alive is a battle, a battle that many don’t win — 21,000 every day, more than 7 million every year.

Raising awareness about these children is a key to reaching the day when zero children die from preventable causes. That’s why we’ve partnered with USAID for a new social media campaign: “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday.” The idea: post a photo of yourself or your kids at age five. Share it. Friends can do the same and find out about the millions of children who never get a chance to celebrate being five.

Please join the campaign by taking a moment to upload a personal fifth birthday photo. And don’t be embarrassed about sharing that photo. If I did it, you can too!

You’ll be hearing more from us about the 5th Birthday campaign in the lead up to an exciting  event in June. More to come!

Page 28 of 58:« First« 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 »Last »