A part of our goal is to keep you up to date on the latest happenings around the global health world. Here are a few quick stories and happenings from the PSI Laos office.
PSI Finds 136 TB Cases in 2012
With support from the National Tuberculosis Center and Ministry of Health, PSI Laos detected 136 new TB cases in 2012 thorough its Sun Quality Health network of franchised private sector clinics, mobile education activities, and peer education. PSI also mobilizes pharmacists to refer clients presenting with key TB symptoms to SQH for TB screening, which contributed close to a third of new cases last year. These achievements support the Lao government’s aim to detect more TB cases and achieve MDG 6.
In efforts to increase TB case detection, PSI Laos also worked with the NTC to train 97 private sector providers. The training were held at the provincial level with the goal of strengthening the private sector to detect and treat TB in 12 target provinces.
In June 2012, along with a team from IPC, I visited a client in Sector 5 F, Karachi. A young mother of five children, she had been contacted by an outreach worker from Greenstar, and encouraged to seek family planning support from a nearby Greenstar clinic. With encouragement and information from the outreach worker and the health service provider at the Greenstar clinic, she had adopted the PPIUCD method. Although this young client was facing serious financial difficulties in life, and working as a cleaning lady at the same time as looking after her children, her defiance, resilience – and desire to make life better for herself and her family – caught the attention of the outreach worker Tasleem. This client became “Sitara”- the “star”, and symbolic of many women in Pakistan. Her story featured in the second issue of “Voice of Sitara”.
By Ambreen Saleh, Deputy General Manager, Communications, Greenstar Social Marketing Pakistan
Sitara lives in Suraj Miani, near Multan, Punjab. She lives in a village of about 4000 to 5000 people who are Siraiki speaking. Most people in her village are from a low socio-economic background. Her husband is a mason and earns around Rs 8000 to Rs 9000 ($81- $91) a month. They have five children and they all live together in a two bedroom house.
Sitara’s life is representative of the lives of many women in Pakistan.
The couple is frequently under the financial, mental and emotional pressure of surviving and looking after their many children. She was approached by a community educator from Greenstar, who explained the various methods available for her to look after her health and plan the size of her family.
By Bongiwe Zwane, PR Coordinator for PSI/Swaziland
Mbabane, Swaziland – “When two people love each other and are faithful to each other, taking an HIV test together feels right,” says Nothando, wife to Correctional Services Commissioner Mzuthini Ntshangase. She made these comments after taking a public HIV test with her husband as part of a couples testing public awareness drive.
They both agreed that although it was not an easy step to take, it was imperative that couples communicate openly on issues of HIV and further get tested together regularly. The Ntshangase family pledged to return for another test soon and also to encourage their friends, relatives, colleagues and members of the public to do the same.
“Hello, I found out online about the help and guidance you give to HIV positive people. I have been HIV positive for some months and I need your help please. How do get treatment? Thanks for any assistance you can provide.” That was the first message that Will sent through the And What Now? website’s Fan Page in Facebook.
Will is a 25-year old computer technician from Ahuachapán, El Salvador, and he has been living with HIV for six months. He has been visiting the And What Now? website which was designed by the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO) and Milk N Cookies under the USAID Combination Prevention Program for HIV to provide information and support to persons living with HIV, their families and friends.
You may have to strain your eyes a bit to see it, but singer Katy Perry is holding Zazatomandy, a micronutrient powder that PSI/Madagascar distributes to caregivers of children aged 6-23 months. The product is aimed to take on the problem of undernutrition in a country where UNICEF estimates that half of all the children in Madagascar are chronically malnourished.
Perry, a brand new UNICEF ambassador, joined the UN’s children organization to tour its work in Madagascar.
“I am grateful to UNICEF for giving me the opportunity to see first-hand how its programs make a real difference in children’s lives. Support for UNICEF is saving children, I am a witness to it,” said Perry following the trip.
Aid flows to Madagascar slowed in the wake of a bloodless coup in 2009 that led to continuing political crisis. Perry joined UNICEF to see the schools it supports. An estimated three in ten children in Madagascar who start primary school complete it.
The Global Health Fellows Alumni Business Newtwork Newsletter includes a short feature on PSI in its partner spotlight section.
Population Services International (PSI) was founded in 1970 to improve reproductive health using commercial marketing strategies. PSI is now a global health organization dedicated to improving health in the developing world by focusing on family planning, HIV/AIDs, maternal health and the biggest threats to children under five: malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. PSI works in partnership with governments and local organizations to create sustainable health solutions.
The Pfizer Global Health Fellows Program (GHF) and PSI have been partners from the program’s inception. Over the past decade, 21 Pfizer Fellows have worked with PSI in various capacities around the globe. Mac Chatham, Global Staffing Manager at PSI in Washington, DC, and primary GHF program contact, noted the value and importance of the GHF program and the impact it has had on their organization.
Imperia Acuña is a 52-year old transgendered woman that works for the organization MANU, a local NGO that receives support and technical assistance from Proyectos en Salud Integral (PSI Costa Rica), under the USAID Combination Prevention Program for HIV in Central America. Imperia has gone through difficult life experiences. She was rejected by her father, and endured human rights violations, physical and sexual abuse. Lack of information about HIV, education and stigma made her more vulnerable to HIV. The transgendered population is one of the most vulnerable to HIV in the region; it faces the most discrimination and has the least access to health services. According to non-official estimates, the HIV prevalence among transgendered persons is around 18 – 25 % in Central America.
“Even though I never engaged in commercial sex, I did expose myself to HIV and today I am HIV positive. That is why I started to learn more about human rights and how to support my peers,” says Imperia. In contrast to other programs and based on the combination prevention approach, prevention work in Costa Rica is led by peers like Imperia and is carried out in places where at-risk populations are located. Combination prevention is a comprehensive approach that includes referrals to complementary services that address structural factors such as human rights, gender-based violence, and stigma and discrimination, in addition to behavioral interventions, access to biomedical services such as HIV testing, and diagnosis of other sexually transmitted infections.
“Do haftey ho gaye kya?” or “Has it been two weeks ?” asks TB superhero Bulgam Bhai. It is an advertising campaign by Project Axshya, funded by The Global Fund. Partners include the Government of India’s Central TB Division, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, PSI and the World Vision.
They feature the hero asking people with a heavy cough if it has been two weeks. Bulgam Bhai’s special power is cough detection and he pops up in places like the city market and on a motorcycle. If people have been coughing for two weeks, Bulgam Bhai tells them that they should go get tested for TB.
“The character keeps repeating, ‘Has it been two weeks?’ to drive home the point that two weeks of cough is dangerous. So far, all programmes have concentrated on TB treatment; this one focuses on detection” said Dr Sarabjit S Chadha of the The International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease when the project debuted in Feburary 2012.
“My story is not an easy one. To begin with, I’ve experienced a lot of pain because being a sex worker is not easy.” These are the words of Grettel Quirós, a sex worker and leader in La Sala, a local organization in Costa Rica. Grettel is one of the approximately 9,200 women who work in sex trade in the country.
Although there is no official data for the HIV prevalence rate in this population, during just the 2012 fiscal year the USAID Combination Prevention Program for HIV found a rate of 3% among female sex workers through its voluntary counseling and testing services; this is triple the prevalence rate among the general population.