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A couple from Malawi receives counseling from a Community-Based Distribution Agent (CBDA)

In Kasungu District, Malawi, trained Community-Based Distribution Agents (CBDAs) gather for their final and perhaps most challenging training: couples counseling.

With HIV, couples often do not freely discuss issues and concerns. “Where communication has been a problem for couples, CBDAs in underserved areas will help in risk reduction,” explains Jane Ngwira, MSH’s Kasungu District Coordinator.

A Health Surveillance Assistant offers HIV-Testing and Counseling (HTC) in a Resthouse Room at Sombi

 

Picture trees, water, mountains, mud, birds and fish. This is Lake Chirwa -- the second largest of the five lakes in Malawi and the main habitat of small fish called Matemba. The lake offers a trading opportunity for fishermen from many walks of life.

Lying in the southern region of Malawi, Lake Chirwa is a wetland for people of three districts: Phalombe, Zomba and Machinga. All these people have frequent contact with Mozambique as they lie near the bordering frontiers. The lake lies some 50km from Zomba District Health Office.

Lucia Afiki and Esther Goodson are living positively with HIV. They are counselors for family planning and HIV & AIDS at Salima District Hospital in Malawi, where they openly tell their clients that they are HIV-positive. “When we are open with them about our status,” says Afiki, “people say, ‘Come closer, we want to learn from you.’” Goodson adds: “They say, ‘What should I do to look as good as you?’” The counselors tell them to visit a doctor and join a support group. This is an approach that saves lives. It also transforms social norms about health and gender.

Fatima preparing bean cakes for her business, Nigeria

 

HIV-positive women in Nigeria are the primary caregivers for their own families and other people living with HIV. This disproportionately high burden of care has detrimental effects not only on their health but also on their economic well-being.

The MSH-led, USAID-funded, Prevention Organization Systems AIDS Care and Treatment (ProACT) project in Nigeria has helped establish HIV support groups whose participants are 80 percent women. These groups have started providing income-generating opportunities for participants through savings and loan associations, registered with the Nigerian State Ministry of Commerce and Cooperative Societies.

Mary Umoh, colleague and friend -- and one of the winners of an internal MSH abstract contest for staff -- traveled from Nigeria to Rome to present her poster at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2011).

The USAID-funded Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) program has been providing technical assistance to health facilities in the Northern Cape of South Africa, in partnership with the Provincial Department of Health, since 2005.

SPS addresses various areas, including: Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committees (PTCs), medicine supply management, patient adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART), infection prevention and control, HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical management, pharmacovigilance, quantification, and compliance with the legislation relating to the supply of medicine.

About the Northern Cape, South Africa

Northern Cape

Northern Cape, South Africa

Northern Cape is the largest province in South Africa --- 372,889 square kilometers (km²) --- with a population of 1.15 million. It represents 30.5 percent of the total surface area of South Africa.

Earlier this year, USAID supported the launch of the Leading High-Performing Healthcare Organizations program (LeHHO) for senior health leaders in Kenya. Offered at Nairobi’s Strathmore Business School, the program is the result of a successful partnership between Strathmore and USAID’s Leadership, Management and Sustainability (LMS) project in Kenya.

Mary's 120 square foot house, purchased in 1992 (Mala Persaud/GHARP II)

Mary* was married at the young age of 13 in her hometown, Crabwood Creek, Region 6, Guyana. At age 15, after she gave birth to her first child, her husband deserted them. Mary was left to provide for herself and her child. She tried a few odd jobs, but they did not work out. In 1989, at age 15, she turned to commercial sex work. At this time, Mary had never heard of condoms and had never used one. Her earnings were adequate, as much as $300 some weeks. However, heeding the advice of many of her older friends, she chose to leave sex work in 1992, spent her savings on a 120 square feet house, and started fishing to support herself and son.

GNU Fellow Marzila Mashal (far right) of Afghanistan attends Leadership Development Program in Egypt

Editor’s Note: Marzila Mashal, an Administrative Coordinator working in Kabul, Afghanistan, was awarded a month long fellowship that is awarded to two MSH staffers each year. The Fellowship was established in honor of Carmen Urdaneta, Amy Lynn Niebling, and Cristi Gadue who on February 3, 2005, died in a plane crash outside Kabul, Afghanistan. The Gadue-Niebling-Urdaneta (GNU) Memorial Fund was established to further the work to which these remarkable women dedicated their lives. Each year, the GNU Fellowship provides MSH employees based in the US and the field with an international public health opportunity at another MSH location.

Guest post by Dr. Ahmad Masoud Rahmani

Dr. Ahmad Masoud Rahmani is the National Director of the Afghanistan National Blood Safety and Transfusion Services Directorate, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Dr. Masoud was a participant in the MSH Leadership Development Program offered by the USAID-funded Technical Support to the Central and Provincial Ministry of Public Health project (Tech-Serve) in Afghanistan last year. 

The National Blood Transfusion service in Afghanistan has the responsibility for ensuring that a safe and adequate blood supply is available for all people who need it. This is a free service to all citizens of Afghanistan as mandated by our parliament. Yet to us the costs of providing one pint of blood is very high, about $30 per unit. This includes the cost of consumables, testing of blood, refreshments to blood donors, and the cost of supporting staff and services. For Afghanistan, a country devastated by internal strife and war, this is a very high burden to carry by the Ministry of Public Health.

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