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Partnerships Strengthen Health System Capacity in sub-Saharan Africa

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Washington, DC, December 1, 2015 – The American International Health Alliance (AIHA) would like to thank our dedicated partners and staff who helped us provide pre- and in-service training to more than 50,000 health and allied caregivers in Africa through our HIV/AIDS Twinning Center Program.

Since 2005, we’ve been working to strengthen health systems and develop sustainable capacity to train human resources for health. Armed with new or expanded skills, these healthcare professionals are contributing to efforts to combat HIV and ensure access to care for all!

Here are some examples of the amazing work our partners are doing:

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Dr. Tadesse Urgie with Dr. Anthony Opipari of the University of Michigan Health System.

Ethiopia, like many developing countries, is burdened with a high prevalence of gynecological cancers. Women living with HIV or AIDS are at an especially high risk with cervical cancer being one of the most common cancers associated with the virus.

AIHA partners at St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC) in Addis Ababa are working to more effectively address this problem through early screening and comprehensive prevention and care.

SPHMMC ob/gyn faculty Dr. Tadesse Urgie worked closely with experts from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, gaining much-needed practical experience on the diagnosis and management of cervical cancer and other gynecological cancers. He trained in Michigan’s radiology and chemotherapy units, as well as in outpatient, cancer screening, and colposcopy clinics. In addition, he learned about various surgical supplies, instruments, and organization needed to deliver high-quality patient care.

Even with SPHMMC’s limited resources, Dr. Tadesse has been able to spearhead the launch of a weekly cervical cancer screening clinic, which has greatly lessened waiting times for patients. SPHMMC has also established a stand-alone ureo-gynecology clinic in the ob/gyn department, which focuses on women whose pregnancies are complicated by urological problems.

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AIHA and our partners at KCCB are launching a new DREAMS initiative to target young girls with HIV and violence prevention and life skills interventions.

In Kenya, AIHA has been implementing a national-level HIV prevention program for youth with the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) since 2006. Through the Commission for Education and Religious Education, AIHA and KCCB have been delivering the teacher-driven Making Life’s Responsible Choices program in some 1,600 primary schools nationwide, reaching more than 768,000 Kenyan youth over the past nine years. Additionally, AIHA and KCCB delivered a complementary parent/caregiver program called Families Matter!

Starting this year, through the DREAMS Initiative, AIHA and KCCB will shift focus and target girls aged 10-14 in Siaya and Homa Bay counties.

Using an evidence-based approach, the team will implement programs on school-based HIV and violence prevention, parent/caregiver support, post-violence care, HIV testing and counselling (HTC) referral, educational subsidies, and social asset building – all geared toward reaching the most vulnerable girls in both counties at a young age to effectively prevent new HIV infections.

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Clinical Associates are playing a critical role in HIV prevention in South Africa through VMMC.

In South Africa, AIHA has been supporting the National Department of Health’s efforts to launch a new mid-level medical cadre called Clinical Associates as a way to increase health worker density and expand access
to essential primary care services in underserved, rural parts of the country.

Clinical Associates are playing an important role in the delivery of HIV services in district hospitals throughout South Africa, managing ongoing treatment and care for patients from their initial visit to initiation of ART.

Clinical Associates also provide a range of HIV prevention services, including voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), which has been identified as a key national HIV prevention strategy.

During VMMC drives in the winter season, Clinical Associates surveyed indicated they performed an average of 45 VMMC procedures on a single Saturday. The same survey also revealed that Clinical Associates are conducting almost 89 percent of VMMC in the facilities where they work, with rates of intra-operation complications and post-operation complications similar whether the procedure is done by a Clinical Associate or a doctor. In addition, HIV infection was diagnosed in 198 patients during pre-operation evaluation – 181 cases by Clinical Associates.

If all the current Clinical Associate graduates were enlisted to perform VMMC during high-volume campaigns, they could provide VMMC procedures to more than 23,000 clients in a single day.

AIHA partners at the Ministry of Health in Botswana worked with the South Africa-based Foundation of Professional Development (FPD) to develop a gender-based violence (GBV) training program for health workers.

From March to September 2015, they trained 187 healthcare providers, including 68 trainers from various locations who will be able to provide the course throughout Botswana. The training is contributing to Botswana’s goal of providing an appropriate response to all those who suffer from GBV.

Sinah Phiri along with Kelebogile Motlhanka and Veronica Leburu from the Botswana Ministry of Health try out the fitness centre at the Ikhayalethemba Centre during an exchange visit to see GBV programs in South Africa. The fitness centre provides clients with an opportunity to improve their fitness and manage stress.

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Sinah Phiri along with Kelebogile Motlhanka and Veronica Leburu from the Botswana Ministry of Health try out the fitness centre at the Ikhayalethemba Centre during an exchange visit to see GBV programs in South Africa. The fitness centre provides clients with an opportunity to improve their fitness and manage stress.