A UNAIDS feature story reports on a roundtable discussion held at the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research (CAPRISA) in South Africa last month, which “looked at ways of maximizing the opportunities created by scientific research around HIV prevention in the past year to reach the country’s target of halving…
Access to Health Services
The use of mobile phones for medical purposes, or mHealth, holds “promising implications,” but “there are still some challenges to overcome,” PBS NewsHour reports. Additional research is necessary to determine whether people act on health-related text messages and whether the messages have value for a user, to “questions … around whether applications can be used across all mobile devices, and how to charge cell phones in areas where electricity is spotty or nonexistent,” the news service writes. “Despite all of the challenges, there is progress, especially in the area of collecting health information,” NewsHour notes (Epatko, 10/5).
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called on the Brazilian government “to ensure its state-owned drug company steps up production of the only drug for Chagas disease, which affects 10 million people in Latin America,” Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley writes in her “Global Health Blog” (10/6). “Thousands of people with Chagas disease will go untreated in coming months due to a shortage of benznidazole, the first-line drug used in most endemic countries,” according to a MSF press release and a related article published by the organization. According to the press release, MSF has stopped diagnosing Chagas in Paraguay and has suspended new projects in endemic areas of Bolivia due to the shortage (10/5).
The Huffington Post profiles Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. under-secretary-general of Innovative Financing for Development and chair of UNITAID, a financing mechanism he conceived in 2004 to help provide medicines for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries. The article discusses Douste-Blazy’s work and background, UNITAID, and other innovative financing schemes (Lines, 10/6).
UNICEF representative for Indonesia Angela Kearney said at a workshop on household to hospital continuum care on Thursday that although Indonesia’s infant mortality rate showed a downward trend in the past few years, it is still high, Xinhua reports. “Based on a UNICEF global child mortality report, over the past 10 years infant mortality rate declined significantly to 35 out of every 1,000 births in 2011 from 97 out of every 1,000 births in 1991, she said,” according to the news service.
In this RH Reality Check opinion piece, Matthew Kavanagh, director of U.S. advocacy at Health GAP (Global Access Project), and Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder and president of SisterLove, Incorporated, write, “With proof that treatment is prevention, and with this basket of broader prevention options, scientists and economists have finally been able to show what few could before: models of how we end the AIDS crisis.”
WHO Releases Report Highlighting Global Underinvestment In Mental Health Care As World Commemorates Mental Health Day
The WHO “is calling on governments to increase services for people suffering from mental, neurological and substance use disorders,” VOA News reports. The WHO’s “Mental Health Atlas 2011,” “released to coincide with World Mental Health Day, which falls on October 10, finds countries all over the world spend very little on the treatment of mental illness,” according to VOA (Schlein, 10/9). According to the report, “One in four people will require mental health care at some point in their lives but in many countries only two percent of all health sector resources are invested in mental health services,” a WHO press release states (10/7).
“Economically vulnerable Greeks are losing health care access amid dwindling budgets, facing higher risks of HIV infection and sexually transmitted diseases, and in some cases, even dying, according to a study released online Monday by The Lancet,” the Associated Press/ABC News reports (Torchia, 10/10). “There were about 40 percent cuts in hospital budgets, understaffing, reported occasional shortage of medical supplies, and bribes given to medical staff to jump queues in overstretched hospitals,” the authors wrote, according to BBC News. “At the same time there was a 24 percent increase in public hospital admissions, partly fuelled by fewer patients using private hospitals,” BBC writes (Gallagher, 10/9).
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Food Program and Engender Health have partnered with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health in “a campaign to treat and end obstetric fistula in women in Rwanda,” the New Times/AllAfrica.com reports. Through the campaign, “at least 50 women are expected to be treated by Issa Labou, a urologist from Senegal, assisted by a team of Rwandan physicians during an exercise to be held at Kibogora Hospital, Nyamasheke District, Western Province from 10-21 October 2011,” according to Anicet Nzabonimpa, the family planning and HIV integration coordinator in Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, the newspaper writes. “We commit to supporting government’s efforts to fully integrate services that are permanent for on-going, continuous and holistic care of obstetric fistula cases until we entirely end this preventable and treatable condition,’ she said,” according to the New Times (10/9).
IRIN Reports On Community's Efforts To Increase Access To Contraceptives, Improve Family Planning In Madagascar
IRIN reports on one community’s efforts to increase access to contraceptives and help provide information on family planning in Madagascar. The news service highlights efforts by women in Antalaha, Madagascar, who formed an association called Femmes Interessee au Development de Antalaha (FIDA). The association uses World Bank funding to run a center that provides information and support to teenage girls, with a focus on preventing early pregnancy; broadcasts “a radio program aimed at educating women about their reproductive health and legal rights; … disseminates information on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)”; and works with husbands to change “negative attitudes towards family planning, [which] were preventing even those women who could get contraceptives from their local clinic from using them,” according to IRIN.