USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Health

U.S. Provides Equipment To Female Health Workers in Pakistan

More than 1,500 Lady Health Workers who work in areas in the areas of Punjab and Sindh provinces in Pakistan will receive kits of basic equipment to help them as they offer vital health care services to families in their communities. This donation is part of the United States’ continuing support for Pakistan’s flood relief and recovery efforts.

Deputy USAID mission director Rodger Garner is speaking to the lady health workers; Sakina Shanwari, supervisor of the lady health workers, thanks the American people. Photo Credit: USAID/Pakistan

The kits were donated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to Pakistan’s National Program for Family Planning and Primary Health Care.  Kits include blood pressure monitors, scales, thermometers, blankets, tents, and basic furniture.  This equipment will enable Lady Health Workers to set up health houses to provide basic services in flood-affected communities.

Read more here.

From the Field

In Mozambique, as part of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), we will launch the Malaria Communities Program (MCP).  This program will support the efforts of communities and indigenous organizations to combat malaria.  The primary beneficiary groups of the MCP are children under five and pregnant women.

In Zambia, a rural health center built with support from a USAID humanitarian assistance program will be handed over to the local community for its own management and use.

In Ghana, we will hold a Voucher Fair to distribute vouchers to those affected by recent flooding.  This one-day event will distribute vouchers to 700 households, an estimated 4,200 people that were affected by the recent floods in the Central Gonja District.  The vouchers can be used to purchase items such as blankets, clothes, plastic sheets, mattresses, kitchen supplies and school supplies from local

Leading Through Civilian Power

After months of effort and meaningful discussions, today I was happy to join Secretary Clinton to unveil the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) at a State Department town hall.

Complementing the Presidential Policy Directive on development that was released earlier this year, the QDDR helps make real the commitment the Secretary has shown to creating a modern, efficient diplomatic and development architecture.

For USAID, the QDDR provides an opportunity for this Agency to demonstrate its capabilities, elevating the role development plays in our nation’s foreign policy while empowering us to be inclusive leaders. It affirms USAID mission directors as the top development advisers in U.S. embassies and grants USAID the hiring authority to attract and recruit top talent. It also recognizes USAID as the lead agency in charge of President Obama’s chief development initiative, Feed the Future, and positions us to lead the Global Health Initiative by the end of FY 2012.

Critically, the QDDR endorses the suite of reforms we began earlier this year—USAID Forward—recognizing this Agency’s need to develop new systems and capacities to deliver against these new opportunities. We will continue to streamline our work and cut red-tape, transforming our Agency into a modern, efficient development enterprise. But we also must renew our engagement with our interagency partners in a spirit of inclusive leadership and cooperation, and focus thoughtfully, aggressively, and primarily on delivering results for those we serve.

We should keep in mind that in the end, success for this Agency and the people we serve will not be delivered in a directive or a document, no matter how powerful or carefully crafted. Our success will be determined by the hard work and enlightened leadership we show. The QDDR has provided us a blueprint to effectively channel our efforts, but it is only as powerful as we make it.

Solving Transportation Problems and Preventing AIDS Deaths in Lesotho

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about innovation for health? DNA tests? Smart phones? How about ponies? In Lesotho, these four-legged vehicles might just be the best idea yet.

Lesotho is a tiny country landlocked within South Africa about the size of Maryland. Its 2 million people live mostly in rural areas. But despite its small size, it has big HIV statistics. One in four adults is HIV-positive, and more than 20,000 people are newly infected each year. Many people live in mountainous areas that are connected to larger towns and cities by a network of winding and unreliable roads.

Small clinics in the mountains serve as crucial outposts for health care. The roads to the mountains, however, are often unusable due to heavy summer rains and winter snowstorms. Clinics consequently can’t order lab tests or receive a reliable flow of drugs and supplies for four months or more every year. HIV patients, who need medication daily, and those seeking to find out their HIV status, can’t wait that long.

To fill this need, USAID supports the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to collaborate on an innovative way to reach those in need. The Horse Riding for Health program engages local pony riders to transport blood tests, drugs, and supplies between remote mountain health clinics and better-equipped hospitals at sea level. When roads are navigable by two wheels, motorcycle riders join the journey to further speed the process of rushing blood to the lab or medication to those sick with HIV. The transport system allows people to receive HIV test results sooner, access life-saving drugs, and ensure an uninterrupted supply of medication. (See more photos of the horse riders.)

The benefits aren’t limited to individuals receiving care; research shows that faster diagnosis and treatment for HIV leads to fewer future cases in the community. This is partly because the more people know their HIV status, the less likely they are to transmit the disease to others. Especially for pregnant women, learning her HIV status can be the difference between life and death for her baby.

Just a few years ago, even if expectant mothers knew they were HIV-positive, all they could do was hope for the best. In addition to improving transportation systems, USAID and the Glaser Foundation have rolled out comprehensive services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission throughout Lesotho. Today, 80 percent of mothers have access to treatment and counseling programs that can allow their babies to be born HIV-free. The fight against HIV in Lesotho has been bolstered by strong leadership by Minister of Health Mphu Ramatlapeng as well as active involvement by the community.

To see the Lesotho programs in action, ABC News is featuring two videos on its website and will air a story Friday night on 20/20 for the first in a series of reports on global health. The event will span Good Morning America, World News with Diane Sawyer, Nightline, and 20/20 to showcase innovations in global health as well as the people behind the progress.

Microbicide Gel Offers Protection Against HIV Transmission

Microbicide. That’s kind of a funny-sounding — perhaps even scary — word for something pretty powerful. It certainly has a scientific “ring” to it, and that tends to turn people off. It’s complicated, it’s detailed, and it’s… boring, right?

If you think something that can empower women, save lives, and possibly change the course of history is boring, then yes. Here at USAID, we actually think it’s pretty exciting. For nearly 50 years, we’ve been investing in science, research, and innovation to enable game-changing interventions and breakthroughs to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods. This year, such an investment provided the first-ever proof that a microbicide, Tenofovir 1% vaginal gel, can safely and effectively protect women from HIV transmission.

An estimated 33.3 million people are living with HIV globally. Nearly 23 million of these individuals, 60 percent of whom are women, live in sub-Saharan Africa. In many countries, women lack the power to negotiate the use of prevention tools and approaches to protect themselves from exposure to HIV through conventional methods such as condom use, partner reduction, and negotiating delay of sexual debut.

The results of the USAID and South African-supported Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) 004 trial are encouraging, and provide hope that a new method that will enable women to have greater control over HIV prevention will soon be available.

The next steps are to confirm these results in further studies; once this happens we could have on our hands a unique HIV prevention tool for women who are not able to negotiate other HIV prevention methods with their male partners. Once this new technology is ready, USAID will work with all our partners to make it available to vulnerable women and girls as soon as possible.

But, since everyone is different, we know that we need a variety of HIV prevention methods to choose from. For just this reason, other next-generation ARV-based product leads are in the pipeline and will be tested clinically if they continue to show good results in preclinical testing. We will continue to support clinical studies of promising products.

We are thrilled our Administrator thinks microbicide is an exciting word as well. Just two weeks ago he convened a meeting to determine the next steps following the success of CAPRISA. There will also be an additional meeting with technical experts in the field to discuss how to aggressively roll out microbicide treatments to those most in need.

Microbicide: Does one word say it all? Perhaps not. Is the word off-putting? Even a little too scientific? Perhaps. We just see it as the future of HIV prevention.

Want to know more about USAID-supported innovation and breakthroughs for global health? Stay tuned to www.usaid.gov and the IMPACT blog! We’ll be posting updates to highlight a variety of new research findings over the next several weeks as we roll out the 2010 Health Research Report to Congress.

From the Field

In Albania, we will open a Taxpayer Service Center in Tirana. Based on a new client-centered model, Albania’s General Directorate of Taxation, with the support of USAID and the MCC Threshold Program, will open a new service center in Tirana. The project has supported the remodeling of the infrastructure, including key IT infrastructure that will allow for a customer queue system and 20 customer service windows for taxpayers. Tax administration reforms are important to increase transparency and reduce corruption in Albania’s business environment.

In Paraguay, we will celebrate the results of a seven year citizen’s initiatives program to improve democracy.

In Zimbabwe, Mission Director Karen Freeman joined Ambassador Charles Ray and Zimbabwean government officials to bestow the 10th annual Auxillia Chimusoro awards to Zimbabweans who have excelled in their involvement in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe. The awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions in communication, leadership, social investment and other areas to mitigate the effects and impact of HIV/AIDS. The awards are named after Auxillia Chimusoro, one of the first individuals to disclose their HIV positive status in Zimbabwe. This year, the awardees included Catherine Murombedzi, the first journalist in Zimbabwe to disclose her HIV positive status, Head of the HIV and Tuberculosis (TB) unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Owen Mugurundgi, and the late Dr. Monica Glenshaw, a former District Medical Officer for Manicaland.

In Iraq, we will join The Ministry of Health (MoH)for their  Annual National Conference.  This year the conference will focus on “Training Management in Health Institutions”. The MoH Human Resource and Development Center (HRTDC), International Medical Corps (IMC) and USAID/Tatweer are partners in this conference. Papers from each Directorate of Health from each province will be presented.  Several workshops will also take place, topics include: planning and implementing the training process and developing training curricula, the role of IT in improving health information systems, the impact of training on MoH service delivery, accreditation and quality assurance of training and budget preparation for training.  Additionally, as USAID/Tatweer comes to a close, the conference will highlight MoH and USAID/Tatweer successes in developing sustainable capacity and affecting system reform in the Ministry.

200 Years of Global Health in 4 Minutes

Let’s be honest, statistics can be boring and oftentimes intimidating. It’s unfortunate because behind every statistic there is an incredible story to be told. While statisticians are not generally known for their charismatic personalities, Hans Rosling has done the impossible—he discovered a way to unearth compelling stories that are often lost in a vast sea of hard data.

Photo Credit: Ryan Cherlin/USAID

Through his non profit venture Gapminder, Rosling is dedicated to telling the story of global health by converting numbers into exciting presentations with stunning animated and interactive graphics. In order to change mindsets with datasets, he relies on credible sources to supply him with the raw materials he needs.

Rosling pulls data from several sources, including the USAID funded Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), to create his animated presentations that have captivated global health professionals, government officials, policy makers, as well as audiences unfamiliar with global health issues. For the past 25 years, DHS has proved to be the gold standard of high quality and reliable data on health in developing nations. This data provides critical insight that helps decision makers establish evidence-based priorities and policies to progress the global health agenda.

The DHS program works with countries’ health ministries and has conducted some 260 surveys in over 90 developing countries measuring key indicators including infant and child mortality, fertility, family planning use, maternal health, child immunization, and malnutrition levels. Beginning in 2001, DHS began measuring HIV prevalence in national surveys, leading to an international reassessment of both the extent and epidemiology of the AIDS epidemic.

Check out more of Hans Rosling’s videos on the Gapcast YouTube channel.

The Ability to Plan Your Family Is a Game Changer

Having seven children would be a challenge for any woman. In a developing nation like Mali, where the average number of children per woman is 6.6, calling it a challenge may be an understatement. Because they fall pregnant at an early age, young mothers don’t have the opportunity to finish their education, they aren’t able to work outside the home, and they face an increased risk of pregnancy-related health complications that could be fatal. Without contraceptives to plan how many children to have and when to have them, this scenario becomes reality for billions of women in the developing world and feeds the cycle of poverty.

There are an estimated 215 million women who wish they had the ability to plan their family but don’t have access to contraceptives.  In some developing nations where health care systems are grossly inadequate, or in rural areas where they may be non-existent, the availability of something as simple as contraceptives can be a matter of life and death.  Women understand the grave risk that comes with pregnancy when there are no trained health professionals or doctors to consult and provide care.  The ability to mitigate that risk is a right that should be afforded to every woman.

A World Health Organization report in 2005 stated that 1 in 75 women in developing countries risk facing maternal death in their lifetime versus 1 in 7,300 in developed countries. At the extreme, in Niger a women’s lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications is 1 in 7 versus 1 in 48,000 in Ireland. Behind each of these statistics is a story of a mother who died giving life. Behind each statistic there are heart wrenching stories of broken families that lost a loved one. The stories are all the more tragic when the woman had hoped to avoid the pregnancy, but didn’t have access to contraceptives.

The 16 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women: From 25 November to 10 December, USAID will post a blog each day that aims to prove a single point: The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart. If you are moved by what you read and want to share, we’ve made it easy for you. Click here to find out how.

Digital Birth Control On Your iPhone

Just when you thought there was an application for everything, now you can download birth control to your smart phones. The ability to plan or prevent pregnancy is something most couples in developed nations take for granted. In poor countries where health systems are often weak and individuals can’t afford to see a health professional this luxury is wanted and needed, but not easily attained.

An estimated 200 million women wish they could plan for or prevent pregnancy because having more children poses a health risk to the woman or an economic challenge for the family.

The product, iCycleBeads, is now available at the iTunes store. It’s a natural birth control method that enables a woman to track her menstrual cycle and know if she is on a day when pregnancy is likely or not. Many women and couples prefer this method because it is:

  • More than 95% Effective
  • Side-Effect Free
  • Easy to Use
  • Inexpensive
  • Educational & Empowering

Since 1985 USAID has supported the use and development of natural family planning methods that give couples the tools they need to plan for the future health and stability of their families. It was a USAID-funded study that originally developed the science and methodology behind Cyclebeads which has helped couples in developing countries plan their families for decades.

This new trend towards digitizing birth control through smart phone applications or similar services offered on regular cell phones means more couples will have access to the family planning services they want.

CycleBeads is a color-coded string of beads that represents the days of a woman’s cycle and helps her use a natural family planning method called the Standard Days Method®. To use CycleBeads, a woman simply moves a ring over the beads to track each day of her cycle. The color of the beads lets her know whether she is on a day when pregnancy is likely or not and whether her cycle length is in the appropriate range for using this natural family planning method.

U.S. Responds to Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

Nancy Lindborg is the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. Photo Credit: USAID

Nancy Lindborg is the Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. Photo Credit: USAID

Responding to disasters is never easy, and the cholera outbreak in Haiti is no exception.  The six-week-old outbreak has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Haitians and infected 80,000 others.  Sadly, this illness will likely continue to spread for many months to come, and cholera will be present in Haiti for years.

Six weeks after joining USAID, I traveled to Haiti as part of the U.S. response to the cholera outbreak.  I saw the worst of it:  sick women and children, massive dehydration, and widespread fear.

I also saw signs of hope and reasons for the American people to be proud of our response to the outbreak.  The Haitian Government is leading the charge against cholera, and the U.S. Government is coordinating with the international community to deliver life-saving supplies, train Haitian medical staff, and monitor the outbreak.

United States government assistance to the cholera outbreak has been a swift, coordinated multi-agency effort.  We have collectively provided more than $21.5 million in assistance for the cholera outbreak in Haiti to date.  As cholera continues to spread, the U.S. Government is focusing on both the prevention of and treatment for the disease.

On the prevention side, USAID is supporting a nationwide messaging campaign to promote better hygiene practices and increase public awareness of prevention and treatment of the disease.  We are also training almost 7,500 community health workers and hygiene promoters across all 10 departments in Haiti.

Slideshow provided by Flickr. Click here for captions and high-resolution images

To further assist the Government of Haiti’s cholera prevention programs, USAID has already delivered or scheduled the delivery of much-needed cholera prevention supplies.  These include:

  • 30 metric tons of chlorine, which will provide nationwide treatment of Haiti’s  water utilities for three months
  • 15 million aquatabs, enough to help 750,000 people
  • Nearly 63,000 family hygiene kits, to benefit 345,000 people

As the numbers of cholera patients increases, we are also increasing our cholera treatment activities. U.S. government funding has established 27 cholera treatment facilities, and we are working to bring an additional 37 facilities online as soon as possible.

To further increase treatment capacity, USAID delivered 25 cholera treatment kits to Port-au-Prince last week.  These kits include items such as medical supplies, gloves, soap, and intravenous fluid, and the kits will help treat 10,000 moderate and severe cholera patients.  These cholera kits are being placed at critical sites in underserved and remote, rural areas in each of Haiti’s 10 departments.

USAID is also providing supplies to aid in the treatment of cholera.  The following supplies are already in country or planned for staggered arrival through the month of January:

  • 5.3 million ORS sachets, which will benefit an estimated 530,000 people
  • 600,000 liters of ringer’s lactate, which will benefit 75,000 patients
  • 2,000 cholera beds

NGOs, donors, and other members of the international community are also mobilizing to help curb the spread of this epidemic.  Tragically, it will be nearly impossible to fully stop the course of this epidemic.  The earthquake exacerbated Haiti’s weak sanitation systems and health infrastructure, making it particularly susceptible to disease outbreaks.  Cholera is also a new disease for Haitians, so their immune system is more vulnerable than those populations where cholera is endemic.

Our goal is first to ensure every Haitian receives information about how to prevent infection and how to recognize the early symptoms of cholera. Secondly, we are determined to reduce both fatalities and the number of severe cases that require hospitalization.  We’re already seeing progress.  Early in the outbreak, about 9 percent of hospitalized cholera cases were fatal.  In the latest reports from Haiti’s Ministry of Health, that figure is down to 3.5 percent.

To say 2010 was a challenging year for Haiti would be a brash understatement.   An earthquake, hurricane, and disease outbreak would test the mettle of any population, but Haitians are confronting these challenges head on, and they’re doing it with unprecedented resolve and tenacity.

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