Blog Posts by Laura Hanson

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

Meet Daniel Gemechu, MSH Regional Director for the USAID-funded Challenge TB Project in Ethiopia. MSH has worked in Ethiopia since 2011 to improve the quality of TB care and prevention services. Over the past five years, treatment success rates rose above 90%, with 75% of those suffering from multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) now able to beat the disease after completing their treatment regimens. We asked Dr. Gemechu to reflect on his experience working with MSH and what remains to be done to eliminate the disease in Ethiopia.

[Dr. Gemechu cross-checks doses taken and doses remaining on TB treatment patient kits at a health center in Oromia region to verify whether treatment is being delivered according to national guidelines.]Dr. Gemechu cross-checks doses taken and doses remaining on TB treatment patient kits at a health center in Oromia region to verify whether treatment is being delivered according to national guidelines.What drives you to fight TB in your home country? 

Prize winner Vishal Phanse shares how his company, Piramal Swasthya, uses telemedicine and community outreach programs to make health care more accessible and available to marginalized populations in India. Photo credit: Sarah McKee/MSH

MSH and USAID Co-Host Celebration of Inclusive Health Access Prize Winners

On September 24, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and MSH recognized the five winners of USAID’s Inclusive Health Access Prize: GIC Med, Infiuss, JokkoSanté, mDoc, and the Piramal Swasthya Management and Research Institute. These private-sector organizations have developed and proven innovative solutions to expand access to lifesaving basic health care in low- and middle-income countries while demonstrating a vision for expanding their approach.

“Locally Leading the Way to UHC: USAID’s Inclusive Health Access Prize,” attended by nearly 200 people in person and online, was held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly’s first-ever High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Pfizer Global Health Fellow, Megan Montgomery, and Peter Mmbago, Human Resources for Health Advisor for TSSP, interview a health care provider in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.

Meet Megan Montgomery, one of two impressive Pfizer Global Health Fellows currently working with MSH in Tanzania. This international corporate volunteer program places Pfizer colleagues in short-term fellowships with international development organizations. Megan is lending her skills and expertise in marketing and business strategy to MSH’s Technical Support Services Project (TSSP) in Tanzania, which provides assistance to the Ministry of Health in key technical areas to help control the HIV epidemic and sustain HIV-related health systems and services. 

How are you supporting the TSSP project in Tanzania?

My main focus while here is partnering with the team to strengthen the health system in Tanzania through human resources for health (HRH) activities, such as the implementation of task-sharing initiatives, recruitment, retention and productivity management, as well as developing communication pieces to share the work being accomplished.  

Can you explain what task sharing for HIV services looks like in this context? 

Left to Right: Dr. Pedro Suarez, Senior Director, Infectious Disease Cluster at MSH, Dr. Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, Executive Director, Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI), and Alberto Colorado, Patient Advocate and Coordinator for the Americas TB Coalition. Photo Credit: Laura Hanson/MSH

This week, for the first time in its history, the United Nations hosted a high-level meeting on TB, where world leaders agreed on a global plan to step up the fight against TB. Although the final political declaration has won approval, it is now up to countries to take action.

Leading up to the high-level meeting, MSH and PATH co-hosted a side event, Putting Political Will into Action: Public-Private Partnership to End TB. This candid conversation with a diverse panel of experts and activists emphasized the urgent need to forge deeper government, community, and private sector engagement to make meaningful progress toward ending TB, the world’s largest infectious killer.

The panel included voices representing civil society, multilateral perspectives, and patient advocates who are dedicated to fighting the disease.  

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

A Conversation with Dr. Lal Sadasivan of PATH and Dr. Pedro Suarez of MSH

Last year, Tuberculosis claimed the lives of 1.6 million people, and it affects the lives and livelihoods of millions more. While early diagnosis and treatment can cure and prevent the spread of TB, underreporting and under-diagnosis remains a big issue. The 2018 Global TB Report found that of the 10 million who fell ill with TB in 2017, only 6.4 million were officially recorded by national reporting systems. More dangerous yet, growing drug resistance to first-line TB drugs threatens to undermine decades of progress and make treatment both more costly and complex. Still, TB can be eradicated if governments, donors and private sector actors work together to fund and execute an accelerated response to end the TB epidemic.  

{Violet and Godfrey Justin meet with an HIV counselor during a visit to Bvumbwe Health Center in Malawi. Photo credit: Moving Minds, Malawi.}Violet and Godfrey Justin meet with an HIV counselor during a visit to Bvumbwe Health Center in Malawi. Photo credit: Moving Minds, Malawi.

An innovative testing strategy helps more people living with HIV learn their status

“Life can deceive you when you think you feel strong and healthy,” says Godfrey Justin, whose wife, Violet, tested positive for HIV during a routine antenatal visit. After sharing her status with Godfrey, Violet asked that he be tested as well. Godfrey agreed, learned he was also living with HIV and the couple started antiretroviral therapy (ART).

While traditional methods of HIV testing (such as provider referrals and client-initiated testing) successfully reach millions of people each year, only 75 percent of those living with HIV know their status. Reaching the 25 percent who don’t yet know their status — roughly 9 million individuals globally — will require more targeted approaches.

The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), launched in 2014 by the U.S. and other countries, is dedicated to strengthening the capacities of countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats. The GHSA aims to protect the poorest countries and most neglected populations and works to ensure health security benefits. The GHSA assumes a multi-sectoral, holistic approach to health security and preventing infectious disease.

It will take time for the GHSA to completely achieve its goals.  To do so, the global community must make a sustained effort to prevent, detect, and respond to future infectious disease threats and outbreaks, no matter where they occur.  We, the global community, can do this in several ways.

First, it is important to maintain the international momentum and engagement around health security as a priority focus area. The GHSA was constructed to encourage leadership from membership countries. Countries such as Finland, Indonesia,  Kenya, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and others have demonstrated strong leadership and strategic vision. This drive continues under the Chair of South Korea for the 2017 term.