HIV & AIDS: Our Impact

MSH South AfricaMSH South Africa

More than ten years after gaining independence and holding its first democratic elections, South Africa has made substantial development gains and boasts a growing economy. Despite these achievements, South Africa still faces the largest HIV-positive population in the world. Apartheid is no longer law, yet the health system still retains many inequities from that era. A major challenge for the government of South Africa is improving the accessibility and quality of basic health services.

The millions of children orphaned and made vulnerable by the AIDS pandemic face particular challenges, including loss of their primary care givers, increasing poverty and a greater risk of dropping out of school. When the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was launched nearly 10 years ago, interventions were put in place to address the specific needs of orphans and vulnerable children. Over the past decade, research regarding the effectiveness of these strategies has identified successful program interventions and potentially fruitful new directions.

Commercial sex worker peer educator at one of the mining camps in Mahdia, Region 8, Guyana. {Photo credit: Sheron Fraser/GHARP II.}Photo credit: Sheron Fraser/GHARP II.

Sex workers in Guyana are a socially excluded and marginalized group. Guyana’s 2004 behavioral and biological surveillance survey (BBSS) found that HIV prevalence among female sex workers was 26.6%; only a small proportion of this group had been reached with programs aimed at making them less vulnerable to HIV, and, if HIV positive, less likely to transmit the virus to others.

Community pastor in Mvolo County. {Photo credit: E. Polich/MSH.}Photo credit: E. Polich/MSH.

In South Sudan, HIV prevalence hovers at an estimated 3%,[1] which is significantly lower than neighboring countries like Kenya (6.3%), Uganda (6.5%), and the Central African Republic (4.7%).[2, 3] Despite this lower prevalence, the world’s newest country teeters on a precipice where HIV is concerned.

Vilma (in blue shirt) sharing HIV/AIDS prevention messages with others in her community. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Although Vilma and Chaker live on two different continents, come from two different cultures, and face their own unique challenges as persons at greater risk of being infected or affected by HIV, they have more in common than they might think. Both of them have faced stigma and discrimination, and both are now finding support through local organizations providing services to vulnerable populations and people living with HIV.Vilma, 39, is a sex worker living in Honduras. At age 12, she ran away from home with the dream of making money to support the grandparents she was leaving behind.

The Oba (King) of Isanlu, Dr. A.A. Ikuborije, presents Comfort Abu with an award. {Photo credit: MSH Nigeria.}Photo credit: MSH Nigeria.

Until recently, people living with HIV & AIDS in Isanlu Community in Nigeria’s Kogi state had difficulty accessing health services to manage their illnesses. Today things are very different, and much of that is credited to the persistence and perseverance of one woman, Comfort Omadu Abu.Mrs. Abu is the program manager for the Kogi State AIDS Control Program.

With a population of over a million, landlocked Swaziland faces a shortage of skilled healthcare workers, including pharmacy personnel. There are 64 registered pharmacists, with the majority of them belonging to the private sector as an increasing portion of the population battles several communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and the most prevalent – HIV/AIDS.The lack of pharmacy personnel has led to an increase in the number of facilities that use non-pharmaceutical staff to handle medicines and medical supplies, resulting in inefficient pharmaceutical supply management.

The LDP Core Group is comprised of graduates who have demonstrated a good understanding of leadership processes and concepts and have subsequently been trained to deliver the LDP and support program trainees. There is also an LDP Network which fosters communication, collaboration and support among graduates. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

We aren’t creating leaders; we are uncovering people’s leadership capabilities and providing a path for them to put their capabilities into practice. (Joseph Dwyer, director of the Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program at Management Sciences for Health)Designed by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the Leadership Development Program (LDP) strengthens organizations by developing the leadership and management capacity of staff members at all levels.

Elizabeth Oywer, the registrar of the Nursing Council of Kenya (center), is recognized for completing the Leading High Performing Healthcare Organizations by Dr. Edward Mungai, dean of the Strathmore School of Business in Nairobi, and Joan Mansour, leadership development specialist at Management Sciences for Health. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Four years ago, a national assessment done by the Ministry of Health in Kenya showed that 61% of health managers felt inadequately prepared for their roles due to lack of skills in leadership and health systems management. The assessment report recommended that these gaps be addressed at the pre-service and in-service training levels for health workers and also at the senior management level of the health sector.

Goodness Dlamini (right), a "mentor mother", outside the Lamvelase clinic in Manzini, Swaziland. {Photo credit: Josh Chuttergoon/MSH.}Photo credit: Josh Chuttergoon/MSH.

"I want to see more women living like me, moving away from being sickly to living a healthy, productive life."This is what keeps Goodness Dlamini going as a "mentor mother." Goodness, 39-years old, supports and educates pregnant women and mothers on prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) at Lamvelase Clinic in Manzini, the largest city in Swaziland.

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