August 2012

The XIX International AIDS Conference featured five full days of plenaries with high-level speakers and community activists. The plenaries exemplified the diversity of topics covered throughout, and the global experience of people attending the July 22-27  conference. The plenary round-ups below are a great way to re-enter the experience of AIDS 2012, whether you attended the conference or just want to learn more.

Read more at storify.com.

SWSS team and NGO members visited a local shop for information, education, and communication materials in Baghalak village of Nahrin district, Baghlan province. {Photo credit: Bashir Ahmad, CLTS Supervisor/SWSS.}Photo credit: Bashir Ahmad, CLTS Supervisor/SWSS.

Afghanistan has yet another village which has successfully become an Open Defecation Free (ODF) zone. Baghalak is a village in Nahrin district with 630 inhabitants dispersed among 90 households --- each with unused latrines in poor condition. For this reason, Baghalak was selected by the USAID-funded project, Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS) and the Organization for Health Promotion & Management to partake in community-led total sanitation (CLTS) training.

Prior to CLTS’ involvement in the village of Baghalak, the traditional latrines also lacked hand washing facilities, which is crucial to proper sanitation. In addition, significant amounts of human waste could be seen on farms, gardens, and sidewalks. As is a common problem in communities without CLTS instruction, latrines tend to go unused due to the lack of communal education regarding their importance. While the hygienic and sanitation status of the community were in severe need of improvement, there also existed a strong desire within the community to reduce their high incidences of infectious illnesses, particularly diarrheal diseases.

President William Clinton at Closing Session of AIDS 2012. {Photo credit: © IAS/Steve Shapiro - Commercialimage.net.}Photo credit: © IAS/Steve Shapiro - Commercialimage.net.

It's been nearly two weeks since former President William J. Clinton closed the last session of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) and delegates returned home.

This year's conference featured commitment and calls for an AIDS-free generation, a growing interest in Option B+, and new research towards a cure.  Here are some reflections from what we learned at AIDS 2012, where we truly started "turning the tide together".

Clinton calls for a blueprint toward an AIDS-free generation

Secretary Hilary Rodham Clinton announced significant funding towards preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, South Africa’s plan for voluntary medical male circumcision, and money for “implementation research,” civil society, and country-led plans. Sec. Clinton also called on Ambassador Eric Goosby to provide a blueprint for achieving an AIDS-free generation during her plenary address. Numerous other stakeholders echoed her commitment. But, if we really want to achieve an AIDS-free generation, the $7 billion funding gap that stands between where we are now, and where we should be, will need to be erased

Girl from Uganda. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

The press statement title caught my attention: “Members Continue Efforts to Protect Rights of Women in Developing Countries.”

With piqued interest, I read on:

Congresswoman Betty McCollum and Aaron Schock have once again introduced legislation to stem the devastating impact of child marriage on young girls in developing countries.  The McCollum-Schock International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act, House Resolution (H.R.) 6087, promotes and protects the rights of girls in the developing world.

I was pleased to learn that H.R. 6087 establishes a strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of girls.  The legislation also integrates the issue of preventing child marriage into existing US development programs, and requires that relevant agencies collect and make available data on the rates of child marriage and its impact on meeting key development goals.

Frieda Komba, a licensed drug dispenser in Tanzania. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Each year over 10 million men, women, and children in developing countries die as a result of our collective failure to deliver available safe, affordable, and proven prevention and treatment. A recent analysis of innovations in products and practices for global health, from the Hepatitis B vaccine to use of skilled birth attendants, revealed virtually none of these life-saving interventions reaches much more than half their target population—even after as many as 28 years of availability. This reflects a vast gap between knowledge and action in global health.

Successful Health Systems Innovations

Low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) benefit from continued innovations in health products and health practices, such as use of misoprostol to prevent post-partum hemorrhage, and technologies such as internet-based mHealth applications to protect the poor from catastrophic health expenditures.  To ensure such innovations achieve large-scale, widespread coverage, they must be accompanied by much more effective health systems innovations.

Doreen Nalweyiso happily holding her twins. {Photo credit: T. Athura/MSH.}Photo credit: T. Athura/MSH.

In July 2011, Doreen Nalweyiso, a 27-year-old woman living in Mpigi Town Council, Uganda attended her second antenatal visit at Mpigi Health Centre IV. She was surprised to be examined with an ultrasound machine--and even more shocked to be told that she was expecting twins!

“I was thrilled when the nurse showed me images of twins through the ultrasound TV scan. I had never experienced it in my lifetime,” she explained.

This was her first pregnancy and there was no history of twins in her family. Because carrying multiple fetuses can cause complications for both the mother and babies, Doreen received support from the health center throughout her pregnancy.

Since she knew her delivery could be complicated, Doreen traveled to Mpigi health facility to deliver by caesarian section.

If she hadn’t known she was carrying twins, Doreen might not have known to seek out specialized medical care during labor and delivery.

Sheba (right), her siblings and their aged blind grandmother. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Sheba Joshua became the head of her household at just 18 years of age, when she lost her parents to AIDS. She is responsible for seven siblings and her blind grandmother and earns money by running a catering business out of her home in Gombe State, Nigeria. Becoming the main caregiver for an entire family at that age would have been a daunting experience for most teenagers, but Sheba was not fazed. Now 23, the young woman is fast becoming a respected business owner.

Sheba’s family recently began to receive support from the PEPFAR-funded Community Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). CUBS’ support is routed through the Knightingale Women’s Health Organization (KWHO), which registered two of Sheba’s siblings in school and provided the children with school uniforms, books, pens, and care kits that include mosquito nets, buckets, spigots, and a Water Guard. KWHO also periodically provides the family with food, soap, and money.

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