HIV & AIDS

This blog post originally appeared on the US Agency for International Development's IMPACT blog.

Yodit Assefa (center) and procurement colleagues from PEPFAR’s Supply Chain Management System (SCMS). Photo credit: SCMS

As a procurement specialist with PEPFAR’s SCMS (the Supply Chain Management System) project, I am one of a growing number of women working in supply chain management in Ethiopia. I manage procurements of HIV/AIDS commodities---including the complex procurement of specialized medical equipment used to treat HIV/AIDS---as well as the vehicles that distribute those commodities.

Well planned, strategic procurement is a smart investment. Our team helps save money by minimizing costly unplanned and emergency procurements and buying low-value and bulky products locally.

It’s common sense that a mother who is on treatment for AIDS, pregnant, has a sick child, and is accompanying a sister debilitated by Tuberculosis should not have to visit four separate service delivery points to receive care. Integrated health services not only make the world a healthier place, but also decrease the burden on health systems.

Integration is a comprehensive approach to service delivery. It is the transition from a vertical or horizontal approach to a diagonal, synergistic approach at all levels of a health system. Smart integration means coordinating disease specific programs (such as HIV and AIDS) with other health programs that have operated independently in the past (for example, family planning) to deliver services at the same time or, more importantly, with the same funding. Integration helps organizations maximize the impact of their health investments while allowing people, information, and funding to flow more easily among collaborating groups and stakeholders. Equally important, integration enables providers to treat the health needs of individuals and families more efficiently---regardless of the initial reason a person seeks care.

This is a guest post from Olive Mtema, Policy Advisor, from the Community Based Family Planning and HIV & AIDS Services project in Malawi. Olive is an employee of the Futures Group.

On March 12, 2011, Muslim Leaders gathered in Lilongwe, Malawi for a conference on Reaffirming Muslims' Positions on Family Planning and HIV & AIDS Issues. The conference was hosted by the USAID-funded Community Based Family Planning and HIV & AIDS Services project (CFPHS) in collaboration with the Malawi Ministry of Health, Reproductive Health Unit (RHU); Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM); and Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM). CFPHS is led by MSH, with Futures Group and Population Services International as key implementing partners.

Over the course of the past ten days, I have been fortunate to visit the Central, Eastern, and Western Regions of Uganda.  As part of these visits, I have traveled through and spent time in many of the districts in these regions. It is during these drives through the countryside that I have noticed the campaigns for family planning services over and over again. Though it is possible my eye is fine tuned to notice these signs, as I am here supporting STRIDES for Family Health (a MSH-led, USAID funded family planning, reproductive health, and child and maternal health project), it would be hard for anyone to miss the cheerful rainbows that are posted on signs outside many of the health centers and hospitals indicating that family planning services are provided in that facility.

Signs promoting available family planning services in Uganda, March 2011.

 

(This blog post was originally posted on Global Health Council's Global Health Magazine blog.)

How do we set a gold standard for monitoring and evaluating capacity building?

Last week I attended the inaugural HIV Capacity Building Partners Summit in Nairobi from March 16-18, 2011. The Summit provided a timely opportunity to reflect on capacity building achievements in the region thus far, and use the lessons learned to rethink, gather momentum and repackage HIV capacity building in ways that ensure achievement of universal access and the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals 4, 5 and 6.

News from the HIV Capacity Building Partners Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

On the second day of the first ever Regional HIV Capacity Building Partners Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the key issues that continued to dominate the conversations in various sessions was sustainability.

Many speakers noted that despite a mild increase in organizational capacity building efforts by donors, governments, and nongovernmental organizations in the Eastern and Southern Africa region, the documentation and dissemination of these efforts and their effects on HIV & AIDS programs and other health programs and systems remains limited. Apparently, several factors have contributed to this situation.

First, the group noted that evaluative research for questions of program sustainability were primarily based on the objectives, work plans, timeframes and measures of sustainability that had been developed by individual projects. In most cases, these projects were donor funded and had their own agenda and hence did not take an organizational-wide approach in their approach to measuring sustainability. They just focused on the project deliverables.

News from the HIV Capacity Building Partners Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

Sub Saharan Africa still remains the unenviable epicenter of the global HIV and AIDS epidemic. Over the years, the region has witnessed intensified emergency efforts to expand access to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support. These efforts now call for renewed commitment to strengthen the requisite organizational capacity to plan, implement and sustain effective interventions.

This week, 225 government, donor, academic, civil society representatives, and People Living with HIV/AIDS, coming from 22 countries in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa, are meeting in Nairobi to take stock of progress, achievements and lessons in HIV capacity building, share best practices and innovations, and also plan for future efforts to strengthen the organizational capacity of local implementers.

Every day people are dying in the developing world because they cannot access affordable, quality medicines. Modern pharmaceuticals have revolutionized health care, but weak health systems prevent many people from accessing basic life-saving medicines. The health of men, women, and children can be dramatically improved throughout the world by enhancing access to and improving the use of essential medicines and other health care technologies.

Gaps in the management and availability of essential medicines and health commodities have been a constant weakness for developing countries. These gaps hamper the ability to access and distribute the pharmaceutical and medical supplies needed to treat infectious diseases. We have seen particular success in addressing pharmaceutical management challenges when interventions include: increasing access to products and services, improving the use of those products and services, promoting rational pharmaceutical use, developing public-private partnerships, providing thorough assessments and trainings, and improving procurement processes.

Aberu Hailu and her HIV-Negative son.

 

Aberu Hailu is a 31 year old, mother of four living in Hidmo, Ethiopia a rural community 8 kilometers south east of Adigodum town in Tigray. Two years ago, she visited the Adigodum Health Center to be tested for HIV, a disease she had learned about through community health education. She discovered she was HIV-positive and informed her husband that he should be tested, but he refused.

Two months later, Aberu became pregnant and found herself in despair. She thought she would pass the virus on to her baby and she feared the stigma and discrimination she knew often came with a positive HIV status.

Aberu returned to the Adigodum Health Center and the HIV/AIDS Care and Support Program (HCSP), a USAID-funded MSH-led health project, for help. Aberu learned that her baby could be protected from the virus with prevention of mother to child transmission services.

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