HIV & AIDS

 {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.

 {Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH.}MSH country representatives, Mr. Bada Pharasi (South Africa), Ziyanda Ngoma (South Africa), Ana Diaz (Angola), Dr. Negussu Mekonnen (Ethiopia), and Percy Ramirez (Angola).Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH.

Pablos-Méndez Applauds and Encourages MSH Representatives and Partners at DC Country Health Impact Fair

Representatives from 13 MSH countries—Afghanistan, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda—shared stories and materials about the lives saved and health impact of MSH’s work, in partnership with US Agency for International Development (USAID) and others, at the MSH Country Health Impact Fair at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, last week. Country ownership and health impact were common themes at the fair.

Ariel Pablos-Méndez (MD, MPH), assistant administrator for global health at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), addressed participants and attendees.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

Happy World Health Day from MSH!

Ten country representatives, on behalf of MSH's 2,100-plus worldwide staff, wish YOU, your families, communities, and countries a happy World Health Day, and a world where EVERYONE has the opportunity for a healthy life! [Video below]

At MSH, we save lives by closing the gap between knowledge and action in public health, using proven approaches developed over 40 years to help leaders, health managers, and communities in low- and middle-income nations build stronger health systems for greater health impact. We envision a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life!

 {Photo credit: © 2011 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photoshare}A health care provider dispenses TB drugs for Directly Observed Treatment (DOTS) at Tete's Urban Health Center, Mozambique.Photo credit: © 2011 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesy of Photoshare

Successfully combating the tuberculosis (TB) epidemic requires that national TB programs (NTPs) prevent new infections and ensure that current patients are cured. Although the treatment for drug-sensitive TB is very effective, curing the disease requires that patients adhere to a strict daily regimen of multiple pills for six to nine months. Adding to the challenge is the fact that treatment for drug-resistant TB is longer, more toxic, and less effective.

All medicines carry some risk of adverse events, and anti-TB medicines are no exception. In addition to threatening the health of patients, adverse events, if not well managed, may also result in individuals stopping their treatment early. Patients who prematurely discontinue treatment may remain sick, develop resistance to the medicines, and spread TB to others in their community.

To support NTPs and health professionals efforts to meet treatment goals and improve the safety of anti-TB medicines, the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program developed the first guide of its kind on minimizing risks associated with anti-TB medicines.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}A community health worker uses a mobile phone for health information while caring for a sick child in Salima, Malawi.Photo credit: MSH staff

Natalie Campbell and Elizabeth McLean of MSH and colleagues co-authored a new journal article, "Taking knowledge for health the extra mile: participatory evaluation of a mobile phone intervention for community health workers in Malawi," in the latest issue of Global Health: Science and Practice.

This post originally appeared on the K4Health blog.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For over four decades, MSH has promoted equal access to healthcare for women and girls in more than 135 countries, as we work toward our vision of "a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life." Health for all is a human right, and we believe strengthening health systems within a gender framework can help achieve this vision.

Gender shapes the ways in which health systems are planned, delivered, and experienced by beneficiaries and providers. To meet the specific health needs of women and girls, and to address gender within the health workforce, gender must be mainstreamed globally within and throughout health systems. What does that mean? Transforming the framework of health systems from being gender neutral (not taking the interests, needs, priorities, and contributions of different genders into account)—to being gender equitable (taking into account the interests, needs, priorities, and contributions of all).

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

In the beginning of my medical career during the early 1990’s, I witnessed the devastating effects of HIV & AIDS.  Nearly 60 percent of the hospital beds I attended were filled with AIDS patients, many of them my close friends and colleagues. At the time, little was known about the AIDS epidemic; no effective treatments were available; and as a physician, I watched helplessly as day after day those closest to me suffered until their death.  

Today, almost three decades later, thanks to increased prevention and access to care and treatment for HIV, most of these hospital beds have emptied of HIV & AIDS patients.  Now, these same beds are filled by those suffering from preventable chronic diseases, including vaccine-preventable cancers.

Today, February 4, we commemorate World Cancer Day, joining the global community to raise awareness about the global cancer epidemic, and renew our commitment to address cancer in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

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