Wednesday, February 25, 2009

South-South Cooperation in Maternal Health and HIV/AIDS

“The Tunisia – France – Niger: The Kollo Project for safe motherhood and reproductive health project” was presented by Mr. Fethi Ben Messaoud, PCC for Tunisia and Senetaire General, Office National de la Famille et de la Population at the September 2008 PPD Partner Country Coordinators' Meeting for the Africa Region.

South-South Approaches to Innovative Health Solutions
MediaGlobal: Voice of the Global South
By Lucy-Claire Saunders

22 December 2008 [MEDIAGLOBAL]: At the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Special Unit for South-South Cooperation’s first ever Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo, experts presented four successful projects on HIV prevention and maternal health that exemplify South-South cooperation.

Among the four projects, Campaign to End Fistula was recognized as a model for championing collaboration between countries in the Global South, receiving an award of excellence from the United Nations Development Programme.

“Fistula requires our attention because it is a condition that takes away the dignity and the self-esteem of those who are affected by it,” Bunmi Makinwa, the Africa regional director for the campaign said. “It leaves women incontinent, ashamed and isolated from their communities. Fistula is a stark example of our failure in the public health system in poor countries.”

Fistula is a condition where a woman cannot control the flow of her urine and/or feces due to an injury brought about by prolonged labor. The Campaign to End Fistula, which aims to makes the debilitating condition as rare in developing countries as it is in the industrial world by 2015, is active in more than 45 countries in Africa, Asia and the Arab world.

“We are casting the net wider to incorporate more countries,” Makinwa said. “Recent training sessions in Mali highlight country-level efforts to develop the capacity of fistula service providers though South-South cooperation.”

For example, in Liberia’s surgical wards, they use specialized nurses to assist the surgeon during the operation. This is a service that does not exists in Mali so the program had a Liberian specialist train counterparts in Mali so that hospitals can introduce the new technique in the way they do business.

Three other projects exemplifying South-South cooperations in the health sector were also featured at the afternoon session. Dorcus Phiri, coordinator of the Teacher Capacity Building Project, gave an update on a program that uses live television broadcasts to reach out to teachers and students about HIV/AIDS in Botswana. Using a Brazilian model, the daily television program empowers teachers to break down the silence associated with HIV and AIDS by facilitating an open dialogue in a classroom setting.

“The program increased levels of conversation between teachers, pupils and parents on sexual reproductions health,” Phiri told MediaGlobal. “If we empower teachers with the skills, knowledge and the relevant attitudes for addressing HIV, then they would be better placed to deal with HIV issues in the classroom.”

Named, “Live Talk Back,” the program features a different panel every day who talk about HIV/AIDS and other reproductive health issues. Teachers, students and parents across the country are invited to participate in a live discussion using phone-ins, Short Message Services and e-mails.

Speaking about another project across the world that also deals with AIDS, Mariangela Simao, director of the National STD/AIDS Programme in Brazil, described a multi-country program that address HIV prevention throughout Latin America.

“For us in Brazil, the words of the famous archbishop, Dom Helder Camara, summarize how we think of South-South cooperation: ‘No one is so poor that he has nothing to offer. No one is so rich that he never needs help,’” she said.

The program, which is called, “Lacos –Sul-Sul,” works with partnering countries to ensure universal access to prevention treatment, HIV prevention with adolescents and children, generate demand for services and mobilize participation of those who use the service.

The results have been encouraging, said Simao. In two of the more remote regions in Nicaragua, where LSS support has been provided, HIV testing for pregnant women has increased from 20 per cent to 42 per cent and from 5.3 per cent to 24 per cent. On a side note, Simao mentioned that in regions where LSS is not active, this rate has actually dropped form 3.4 per cent to two per cent.

As well as addressing AIDS, the South-South cooperation projects also addressed maternal and child health. Niger, for example, has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. The infantile mortality rate is 247 for 1,000 live births while the maternal mortality rate is about 700 for 100,000 live births.

Source: MediaGlobal: Voice of the Global South at http://www.mediaglobal.org/article/2008-12-23/south-south-approaches-to-innovative-health-solutions

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Linking RH and HIV/AIDS: Good Practices in Kenya

Linking sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS policies and services presents many challenges for those on the front line of health care planning and delivery. A case study in Kenya of Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) details a number of “lessons learned” in integration including:
  • FHOK has demonstrated that providing antiretroviral therapy within sexual and reproductive health settings is plausible, possible and practical.
  • Providing services for HIV/AIDS at sexual and reproductive health clinics attracts new clients and creates opportunities for promoting sexual and reproductive health to a wider population.
  • In order to achieve their core aims, and to maximize the public health impact, sexual and reproductive health and HIV programmes should take specific steps to meet the needs and concerns of men as well as women in providing services.
  • The best way to promote sexual and reproductive health among young people and to raise awareness of HIV is to make information and services available as part of a wider programme that addresses their social needs, and helps empower them to make healthy choices.
  • By providing space for community groups to meet, or a base for their activities, clinics can strengthen the links with their client population to their mutual benefit.
Find out more about Kenya’s good practices here: http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/hiv/ippf_linkages_kenya.pdf

For more information on linkages between RH and HIV/AIDS policy and programming, a number of tools prepared by IPPF, UNFPA, UNAIDS and WHO offer guidance on how to link sexual and reproductive health with HIV/AIDS.

Friday, February 20, 2009

World Day of Social Justice: The Centrality of Reproductive Health and Rights

February 20, 2009 is the first observation of the World Day of Social Justice (UN). The daylong celebration of social justice encourages all UN member states to organize activities on the national level to support the objectives of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.

As recognized by the World Summit, “social development aims at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among countries and social justice, equality and equity constitute the fundamental values of all societies.” To achieve “a society for all” governments made a commitment to the creation of a framework for action to promote social justice at national, regional and international levels. Governments also pledged to promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all. The governments recognized as well that economic growth should promote equity and social justice and that “a society for all” must be based on social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Reproductive health and rights are essential components of social justice and development. At the ICPD+5 Forum in 1999, Former WHO Director-General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland argued that, "Failure to address people's reproductive health needs is a matter of human rights and social justice. People have a right to make free and informed decisions about their reproductive lives. They have a right to information and care that will enable them to protect their health and that of their loved ones. They have a right to benefit from scientific progress in health care. . . . Defining reproductive ill-health as not only a health issue but as a matter of social justice provides a legal and political basis for governments to act.”

For more information:
Statement by Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General. ICPD+5 Forum, The Hague, Netherlands, 8–12 February 1999. Geneva, World Health Organization (Document WHO/CHS/RHR/99.8)

UN Reports on the World Day of Social Justice:
Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations (2006)

Launch of the World Day of Social Justice New York, 10 February 2009

GA Resolution A/RES/62/10, 19 November 2007 in English and French

UN News Centre, 26 November 2007

GA Draft Resolution A/63/L.29/Rev.1,15 December 2008 in English and French

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Access to Female Condoms (FC)

What is the status of your country’s access to female condoms (FC)?
Female condoms only comprise about 0.2% of the world’s condom supply. In 2007, 25.9 million Female Condoms were available worldwide (almost doubling the 2005 supply) and about 11 billion male condoms were distributed.

PPD member and collaborating African countries with FC country programs include:
1. Ghana
Another resource from Ghana
In Ghana, the Society of Women against AIDS in Africa (SWAA) in Ghana, launched a programme to improve women’s health rights through the introduction of the female condom. They successfully raised awareness of FC in two high incidence areas and tackled obstacles to FC use. While these activities still need to be extended into more districts, regions and communities, a total of 127,500 female condoms have been distributed to date through sales, community meetings and free distribution by SWAA/Ghana and collaborating organizations. Over 10,000 people have been directly reached through female condom training programmes.

2. Kenya

3. Mali

4. Nigeria

5. Rwanda

6. Senegal

7. South Africa

8. Tanzania

9. Uganda
Uganda's Ministry of Health to Reintroduce Female Condoms. Uganda's Ministry of Health will reintroduce female condoms as part of its HIV/AIDS prevention program in response to increased demand, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The Uganda government in 2007 halted distribution of the female condom because of insufficient demand and complaints that the condoms were not user-friendly. However, a recent health ministry analysis determined that women in the country sought an HIV prevention method that allowed them control over preventing sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and unintended pregnancies. (Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Tuesday, February 17, 2009)

10. Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, where distribution of female condoms has expanded rapidly in 2008, women’s groups collected more than 30,000 signatures from women demanding access to the female condom. As a result, the government initiated importation of the female condom.

How to improve female condom availability and programming in your country
Strong advocacy for the female condom is needed to stimulate demand and increase access and availability. You can:

1. Develop an integrated advocacy campaign to support the effective introduction of female condoms within and across HIV prevention and reproductive health programs.

2. Advocate for the inclusion of female condoms in your country’s
• commodities purchasing plans.
• national strategic plan submitted for PEPFAR funding.
• Country Operational Plan submitted to Global Fund to Fight AIDS,TB and Malaria.
• Ask that your government request to be included in UNFPA’s Female Condon Initiative and Comprehensive Condom Programming Initiative. UNFPA’s Global Female Condom Initiative scales up female condom programming. For example, in Nigeria, UNFPA began collaboration in 2005 with the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria to implement a UNFPA Female Condom Initiative. Over 30 registered national RH and HIV/AIDS NGOs were trained in FC counselling and distribution and linked to sustainable supplies of stock for their programmes. These NGOs are now distributing 76% of the FCs used in Nigeria. The social marketing organizations currently engaged in distributing most (about 80%) of all male condoms used in Nigeria are planning to launch marketing of FCs as well. African countries enrolled in the UNFPA Condom Initiative in 2006-07: Zambia, Zimbabwe. Malawi, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. African countries targeted for enrollment in 2008-09: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Maurit├ónia, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Mauritius, Botswana, Madagascar, Swaziland, Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius, Lesotho, Mozambique, Ghana, Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville.

3. Contact the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in your country and demand that they help you gain access to the female condom (Tanzania is currently receiving female condoms from USAID; Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya are not.).

Resources:
Global Campaign for Microbicides: http://www.global-campaign.org/africa.htm
UNFPA: http://www.unfpa.org/hiv/female.htm
PATH: http://www.path.org/projects/womans_condom.php
http://www.path.org/projects/womans_condom_gcfc2005.php
WHO guide for FC use and programming: http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/publications/RHR_00_8/index.html

Additional Contacts and Organizations:
Prevention Now! Campaign. One of the goals of Prevention Now! is to link with existing female condom campaigns, such as those in Argentina, Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, in order to support and catalyze efforts to increase FC access. For more information, see www.preventionnow.net.

Female Health Foundation Team Leader, Katy Pepper at katypepper@femalehealthfoundation.org. FHF works in partnership with UNFPA and provides technical assistance to governments, INGOs, NGOs and other agencies. They provide assistance, guidance and support with advocacy including linkage to others working in the same field/area; updated information on FC promotion and use; technical information on female condoms and guides on programming with the female condom.

For countries in East Africa, the Global Campaign for Microbicides’ Eastern Africa coordinator, Pauline Irungu, at pirungu@path.org. PATH, A.C.S Plaza, Lenana Road, P.O Box 76634 Nairobi, 00508. Phone: +254 (020) 3877177/80/89 Fax: +254 (020) 3877172. The Global Campaign’s goal has always been to amplify demand for more and better HIV prevention options, particularly for women They are now increasing our efforts to mobilize advocacy for access to the female condom, especially in countries hardest hit by the HIV pandemic. For more information, please see the Global Campaign website at www.global-campaign.org.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Technology Tip for Viewing Slow-Loading Websites

A quick tip for viewing websites that are full of images and Flash animation on a slow internet connection.

IYHY is a web-based service that acts as a text-only proxy, stripping down websites for faster load times.

The website IYHY returns just the basic text of the site you plug into it. It removes graphics and images, but keep links so that you can still navigate.

There is no login required for the basic service, but with a free account you can save your most frequently accessed sites to save time.