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
A new quick test to determine the CD4 levels of individuals who test positive for HIV “resulted in a substantial increase” in the percentage of people returning to a clinic get those results, according to a study conducted in Mozambique and published last week in the Lancet, the New York Times reports. “Before quick testing was available, 42 percent of infected patients returned to learn their CD4 count at a subsequent visit. After point-of-care testing began, 78 percent of infected patients were evaluated — that is, almost twice as many infected people took this important first step toward drug treatment,” the newspaper writes (Bakalar, 10/3).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Rick Scott, mission director of USAID in Timor-Leste, reports on a health-focused field trip to the “sub-village” of Hatugeo in Timor-Lesteâ€™s central highlands where USAID-trained community health workers are working to improve maternal and child health by providing pre- and postnatal care information to expectant and new mothers. Hatugeo is located in the district of Ermera, where the infant mortality rate is 70 deaths per 1,000 live births, only three percent of mothers deliver their babies in a health care facility, and a higher percentage of children show signs of malnourishment and illness than in the rest of the country (10/3).
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.”
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 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.'”
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).
“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.
“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.
“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.”