HIV & AIDS

{Photo credit: Chelsey Canavan/MSH, in Kenya.}Photo credit: Chelsey Canavan/MSH, in Kenya.

“While Kenya has seen improvements in areas like HIV care and treatment and child survival, many Kenyans still struggle to access basic healthcare,” says Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, President and CEO of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), in an op-ed published today in The People, a Kenyan newspaper.

Quick returned to the country to speak at Kenya’s launch of the Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa (Health for All) last month.

In the op-ed, Quick highlights the country’s progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) and the role of Health for All:

The campaign’s role is to help build awareness at national and county levels about the importance of expanding access to healthcare, and to ensure that issues like infrastructure, health workers, and financing receive adequate attention in the planning process.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera.}Photo credit: Todd Shapera.

In a health clinic outside Nairobi, Kenya, Janet* waits to see a doctor. Janet is a 32-year-old widow and mother of four from Kibera, a neighborhood of Nairobi. Her 11-year-old daughter, Jane*, isn’t feeling well. Both mother and daughter are HIV-positive.

Janet and Jane are lucky to live walking distance to the Langata Health Center, where they receive high-quality health care for free. Jane has been on antiretroviral medication for more than two years. Janet hasn’t paid a shilling. Around the world, millions of people living with HIV struggle to pay for care, or receive none at all. But Janet and Jane are among the 600,000 Kenyans whose HIV care is free through programs from the Government of Kenya, US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program, and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Janet wishes everyone could receive the same care that she does at Langata. But even for her, the system just barely works. She explains:

The doctor is only one, and we are many.

Patients at Langata face long waits to see a doctor or pick up their medications. Patients like Janet spend hours away from work and may have to arrange for child care.

 {Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH}Gloria Sangiwa (left), MSH Senior Director of Technical Quality and Innovation and Global Technical Lead on Chronic Diseases, talks with another delegate at the Global Health Council (GHC) welcome reception.Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH

This blog post is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. MSH is co-hosting three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. This year, six MSH representatives are attending WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

Sunday was my first day in Geneva for the World Health Assembly (WHA). I attended WHA last year for the first time, and I am feeling a bit like a second-year college student.

As I prepared for this year’s meeting, a few colleagues asked me: Why is the WHA so important to global health policy? Who attends these things and why? I instantly responded to the questions somewhat defensively: "It’s the WHA--that’s why!"

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

For the mother who walks miles for health,

Carrying a near-lifeless child on her back,

We envision a world…

 

For the mother, living with HIV, who mentors others,

Helping to prevent transmission of the disease,

We envision a world…

 

For the mother who must choose

Improving the health of a parent or educating a child,

We envision a world…

 

For the mother who births, the mother who feeds,

And the mother who cares for a child,

We envision a world...

 

Where -- all mothers, all children -- everyone

Has the opportunity for a healthy life.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours!

 

 {Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye/MSH.}MSH staff Grace Gatebi and Patrick Borruet at the MSH Kenya UHC Symposium photo exhibition.Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye/MSH.

The goal of universal health coverage (UHC) is to improve equitable access to health services while protecting households from impoverishing out-of-pocket health spending. In principle, UHC means that lifesaving services and medicines will be accessible and affordable for those who need them. To create deeper awareness of UHC in Kenya, Management Sciences for Health Kenya (MSH Kenya) country office organized a symposium on setting the national health agenda post 2015, called, “Achieving Universal Health Coverage through Stronger Health Systems”.

During the symposium, MSH Kenya organized a photography contest. MSH staff submitted photographs on the theme of “Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Kenya – Financing, Quality, Access and Essential Medicines” (with a focus on the most vulnerable populations). An independent jury selected 19 of the photos for an exhibition at the symposium.

 {Photo credit: Sarah Lindsay/MSH.}Youth Delegates arrive at the Magam Ruhunupura International Convention Centre (MRICC) in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.Photo credit: Sarah Lindsay/MSH.

The World Conference on Youth (WCY2014) is bringing together over 1,500 youth delegates, ages 18 to 29, from May 6-10, 2014, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for thematic policy roundtables to create an outcome document ("Colombo Action Plan") that will state the position of mainstreaming youth in the post-2015 development agenda.

On May 7, the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project will host a side event with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and the International Youth Alliance on Family Planning (IYAFP), titled, “Building Youth Leadership for Family Planning in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

The side event (18h30–20h00 in room C2) will support young people’s leadership potential, capacities, and abilities to address health issues that directly and uniquely affect them and contribute leadership skills for the next generation of family planning and global health leaders.

 {Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.}Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia (left) and MSH President Jonathan D. Quick (right) sign the canvas pledge.Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.

I felt like I had traded my mother’s health for my children’s schooling. It was a tough choice, and I cried every day.

This emotional remark was made by Lucy Njoki, a Kenyan mother and grandmother, at the Health for All Campaign Launch Event on April 28, 2014, in Nairobi. She had been forced to choose between paying for her children’s education or her mother’s urgently needed medical treatment. She could not afford both. Affordable and accessible health care remain an unrealized dream for many Kenyan citizens.  

Unfortunately, Lucy’s story is not uncommon. Lucy represents millions of people who are pushed into poverty due to catastrophic health expenditures in Kenya. The Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa is building awareness and advocating for universal health coverage (UHC) in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Implemented effectively, UHC ensures that all people have access to the quality services they need, without suffering financial hardship.

 {Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.}MSH country representatives and MSH CEO Jonathan D. Quick meet with Congressman Jim McGovern.Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.

MSH hosted its first Congressional Education Day with leaders from our largest country offices including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, and South Africa on April 10, 2014.

For many, this was their first time meeting with Members of Congress and their staff and they were excited to share how US global health investments are saving lives of women, children and families in their countries. Having physicians, project directors, and advocates share first-hand stories of their work provides a much-needed perspective for congressional leaders to learn the success of health programs in local communities, as well as the challenges.

The MSH country leaders had meetings with 18 congressional offices and had the chance to talk to some Representatives and Senators personally.

While the Country leaders did not lobby for any specific legislation or funding requests, they discussed in detail how US support, both financial and technical, is critical in reducing maternal and newborn deaths; achieving an AIDS-free generation; providing family planning services; and strengthening health systems in fragile states.

Ana Diaz, of MSH Angola, noted that: "these meetings are hard to get and they really force you to think hard about how you are going to grab these people’s attention quickly."

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

The availability of new and essential medicines and other health technologies to treat life-threatening illnesses have helped millions of people lead long and productive lives. However, global availability does not necessarily mean access by the end-consumer to these lifesaving health products in low-and middle-income countries. Effective supply chains are needed to deliver these health products in hard-to-reach, resource-constrained settings that often times are inhospitable to collaborative, high-performing supply chain systems.

So how do we get safe, quality, essential medicines and commodities to the people who need them, at the right time and in the right quantities?

 {Photo credit: Genaye Eshetu/MSH}Almaz Haile, Yeshi Derebew, Jember Alemayehu, and Teberih Tsegay receive 2014 REAL AWARDS.Photo credit: Genaye Eshetu/MSH

Four Ethiopian HIV-positive mothers received 2014 REAL Awards for their outstanding contributions to the fight against HIV, particularly prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT), at a ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on April 10, 2014. Created by Save the Children and the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, the REAL Awards are designed to develop greater respect and appreciation for health workers and the lifesaving care they provide globally, as well as in the United States. 

Meet Tsegay, Haile, Alemayehu, and Derebrew

After breaking their silence and confronting the stigma faced by people living with HIV in Ethiopia, and envisioning that no child be born with HIV from their town, the four mothers—Teberih Tsegay, Almaz Haile, Jember Alemayehu, and Yeshi Derebew—received training on PMTCT and began working in late 2010 as mother mentors at Korem Town’s health center of Tigray Region.

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