EMG Consulting and Multi-Media Inc. | Independent Consultant
Antenatal care exam. Photo: UNICEF.
As the world focuses on ending the AIDS epidemic in children, adolescents, and young women by 2020 as part of the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free Super-Fast-Track framework, programs for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) are critical to these efforts. Ninety percent of HIV infections in children under the age of 15 are estimated to occur through mother-to-child transmission (MTCT). Without antiretroviral therapy (ART), the risk of HIV transmission from a mother living with HIV to her infant varies between 15% and 45%. However, new HIV infections in children from MTCT can be dramatically reduced (to below 5%) by giving mothers ART during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding, and continuing ART for life. Today, ART is the cornerstone of PMTCT programs.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic hit the Caribbean in the late ‘70s. By 2001, it had become the second-most affected region in the world with an estimated 420,000 people – more than two percent of the adult population – living with HIV, according to a UNAIDS/WHO report. That year, a group of Caribbean nations created the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) to help avert new infections and reduce deaths in the region by providing support for universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support services.
Dereck Springer is Director of the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP)
For the past year, K4Health has partnered with PANCAP to support its role as a regional leader in the Caribbean’s HIV response. In honor of World AIDS Day, we interviewed PANCAP’s Director, Dereck Springer, about the partnership, his work, and PANCAP’s vision for an HIV-free Caribbean.
Photo: PATH/Chimwasu Njapawu. The Global Digital Health Forum convenes in Washington DC next week. This year’s theme is “The Evolving Digital Health Landscape: Progress, Achievements and Remaining Frontiers.”
The annual Global Digital Health Forum is scheduled for December 4-6th in Washington DC. Though the Forum features amazing presentations every year, one of the most valuable aspects of this event is having the world’s digital health implementers, donors, and champions in one space. The dialogue and strong relationship building between ministries of health leaders, technical developers, and other players in our field is what makes this conference special.
This year’s theme – The Evolving Digital Health Landscape: Progress, Achievements and Remaining Frontiers – captures the spirit of progress made in the past several years to improve digital health systems and takes a critical look at the continued need for innovation to improve health outcomes. PATH joins the Forum once again to share our experiences and technical knowledge through a variety of workshops and presentations.
When I was first learning about family planning methods as a teenager, there were seemingly two real options: condoms (for men, obviously—whoever heard of a female condom?) and the pill. I heard whispers of patches and injectables, but these were followed up with dire warnings from my friends about side effects. The idea of an implant in my arm was terrifying, and an IUD? You may as well have suggested parking a spaceship in my uterus. Besides, wasn’t that something for moms who’d had all their kids already? And, come on, a sponge? Really?
I’m relieved to say I’ve learned plenty since then. Although I don’t have a background in public health, working at CCP has shored up my education in all things family planning. After four years here on the K4Health Project, I can comfortably discuss the various types of IUDs and explain why they’re a great method for many. I know about female condoms and how to use them, and I’ve even learned more about my old friend, oral contraceptive pills. Yet, as technology marches on, even newer family planning methods are reaching the marketplace. And in a world with 85 million unintended pregnancies per year and women still dying in childbirth daily, that’s good news for everyone.
Pathfinder International | Technical Advisor, Community Engagement
Community health workers from Gikomero, Rwanda meet to discuss peer support groups. L-R: Joseph Ntahomvukiye, Immaculée Cimpaye, Marguerite Wiremera, and Jean Murasankiko.
In the Burundian village of Muyebe, a female volunteer community health worker (CHW) visited a family on several occasions, intending to discuss family planning. Each time, the 36-year-old father of nine said he was not interested in hearing about it. One day, the community health worker arrived with three other CHWs, male and female, from neighboring communities, all members of her CHW peer support group. On this occasion, the father allowed them to stay and talk about the benefits of family planning and the many methods available, including vasectomy, which they informed him was now available at the local hospital. After the CHWs left, he used the referral they had provided and went to his local hospital to request a vasectomy.
Dr. Blandina Mmbaga is the Director of Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute in Tanzania and a contributor to The East African Health Research Journal.
East Africans face distinct and often dire health threats. There is a great need for regionally-driven public health research on these and other topics. East African scholars seeking to publish their findings in international journals face challenges, however, such as limited funding opportunities or English-language skills.
To address these challenges, the East African Health Research Commission (EAHRC), with support from USAID Kenya and East Africa and the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) Project, founded The East African Health Research Journal, a no-fee, open-access, peer-reviewed publication that aims to serve as a much-needed, African-led platform for untapped perspectives on regional health issues, as well as a launch pad for young and aspiring East African scholars.
IntraHealth International | Director of Communications and Advocacy
Closer-to-community care can help potential contraception users overcome a number of challenges, including time, distance, and money. Photo by Clement Tardif for IntraHealth International.
In the global health community, we often talk about reaching the “last mile”—generally those who live in the hardest-to-reach places of the world, farthest from the health services they need. But from the point of view of those families, the last mile is in fact the first mile.
The global information and communications technology community seems to understand this more than we do in health. Studies such as this look directly at first-mile issues—that is, “how connectivity looks, feels, and behaves from the subscriber's perspective.” And researchers have done some work to shed light on how a true first-mile approach during an infectious disease outbreak like Ebola must take into account not only local resources, but also the importance of local know-how and cultural understanding.
Digital health interventions benefit enormously when implementers document and learn from past and current digital health projects. This is where knowledge management (KM) can help.
Knowledge management is a systematic practice that helps you learn from others and helps others outside your project learn from you. It is an inherently social process, largely dependent on making sure systems and processes are in place and staff are incentivized to do it.