Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases
{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman, Kenya.}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman, Kenya.

On the eve of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), Rachel Hassinger, editor of MSH’s Global Health Impact Blog, spoke with Dr. Scott Kellerman, global technical lead on HIV & AIDS, to discuss his latest research on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and pediatric HIV & AIDS. Kellerman and colleagues will be attending AIDS 2014, July 20-25, in Melbourne, Australia. (Read more about the conference.)

RH: What is the state of HIV & AIDS globally?

[Scott Kellerman]Scott KellermanSK: We are at the threshold of a sea change. In the beginning, our HIV prevention tool box was sparse. We could offer extended counseling and condoms, and impart information, but not much else. Behavioral change was the cornerstone of tackling the epidemic. It worked sometimes, but, not consistently.

Now biomedical advances are propelling treatment as prevention—even what I call “treatment IS prevention”.

Guess who's coming to the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia, July 20-25?

President Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the US and founder of the Clinton Foundation; activist Sir Bob Geldof; Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS; and Ambassador Deborah Birx, US Global AIDS Coordinator of US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), are among confirmed high-level speakers.

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{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 by: World Health Organization}Part of the poster for World No Tobacco Day. Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce its consumption.Photo by: World Health Organization

This post originally appeared on Devex.com.

When people get sick in Senegal, like in many other low- and middle-income countries, they often find that quality health care services are unaffordable. The majority of health spending is out-of-pocket, meaning people aren’t enrolled in health insurance plans, or their plans’ benefits are limited.

{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: 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: 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: 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).

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