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IRIN Examines Decline Of Public Health Services In Lesotho

IRIN reports on a decline in public health services in Lesotho, writing, “In 2007, the government of Lesotho and [the Christian Health Association of Lesotho], which runs 75 health centers and eight hospitals … signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of making health services more accessible to ordinary Basotho who could not afford even the nominal fees that both state and CHAL-run health facilities charged. Patients would now get free medical services and drugs at health centers and subsidized medical care and drugs at hospitals. However, the resulting influx of patients put a huge strain on health centers and their supply of drugs and many over-burdened government and CHAL health centers have taken to referring patients to private clinics and pharmacies.”

Vodacom Tanzania, Local NGO Use Mobile Phone Banking To Help Women With Obstetric Fistula

The Guardian examines a text messaging program in Tanzania initiated by Vodacom Tanzania and local NGO Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT) that utilizes Africa’s mobile phone banking system, M-Pesa, to provide women suffering from obstetric fistula, caused by difficult childbirth, with the funds necessary to travel to health facilities for treatment. “CCRBT and Vodacom have now appointed a team of 60 ‘ambassadors’ to travel around the country diagnosing women with the condition. Within an hour of an ambassador finding a patient a date is set for surgery and money for transport is texted to the ambassador, who takes the patient to the bus stop,” according to the Guardian.

Uganda's Free Health Care System 'In Crisis,' Daily Monitor Reports

Uganda’s Daily Monitor reports on the status of the country’s free health care system, which it writes “is in crisis despite the billions of shillings of mostly donor money flowing in every year.” According to the newspaper, “Visits to a dozen health centers across the country revealed a chronic shortage of beds, drugs and medical personnel, confirming a recent verdict by the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda that ‘service delivery and general care is almost not there.'”

Kenya National AIDS Program Considering Mandatory HIV Testing

VOA News examines how Kenya’s National Aids Control Council and STI Control Program (NASCOP) is considering proposing mandatory HIV testing for adults and children who seek medical care for other conditions, noting that some AIDS organizations are expressing ethical concerns because of continuing stigma and discrimination. For now, “fears of mandatory testing in Kenya are premature, as Kenyan law currently bans such practices,” the news service writes (Onyiego, 9/30).

Despite Increase In Health Care Spending In Angola, Quality Of Care Remains Low

“Angola has tripled its spending on health care since 2006, but for the vast majority of Angolans who can’t afford sparkling new private clinics — or better yet, care abroad — a trip to the hospital is still a nightmare,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Despite its oil wealth, in 2006 Angola ranked ninth from the bottom in the world on health spending, which accounted for just 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. Since then, spending per person has tripled from $64 to $204, according to World Health Organization data,” according to AFP.

Columbian Scientists Tap Global Computer Network In Search Of Leishmaniasis Drugs

“Colombian scientists are using a global network of personal and institutional computers to search for potential drugs against leishmaniasis, a disease that affects 12 million people worldwide,” SciDev.Net reports. The researchers at the University of Antioquia “will harness the calculation potential of the almost two million computers that make up the World Community Grid, funded by the IBM Corporation,” the news service writes.

Dengue Fever Outbreak Overwhelms Northeastern Kenyan Town; WHO Sends Essential Drugs

“An outbreak of dengue fever in Mandera, northeastern Kenya, is spreading fast, with at least 5,000 people infected within weeks, due to limited health facilities, a shortage of medical personnel and poor sanitation, officials told IRIN.” The news service writes, “A statement by the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation on 26 September said four deaths from the disease had been confirmed but, according to Mandera residents, at least 10 people have died since early September when the outbreak started.”

Strides Being Made Against Trypanosomiasis

Rachel ter Horst, medical advocacy adviser at Medecins Sans Frontieres, describes findings presented at the recent 31st biennial International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control in Bamako, Mali, in this “BMJ Group Blogs” post. Noting that the annual reported incidence of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is decreasing but still…

Study Sheds Light On When To Start Antiretroviral Therapy

Findings from a study published in the current issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, when “taken together with other studies published over the last few years,” show that beginning people living with HIV on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) when their CD4 cell count is between 350 and 500…

Burundi Makes Significant Progress Against NTDs

In this “End the Neglect” blog post, Alan Fenwick, director of the Schistosomaisis Control Initiative and professor of Tropical Parasitology at Imperial College in London, examines Burundi’s progress in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). He writes, “Over a period of four years, interventions to protect people against river blindness, and…