For the past three months I have been an intern for a global public health non profit organization in the United States that is sponsored by the PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan For Aids Relief). This federally sponsored program provides funds to organizations working towards the goal of irradicating HIV and AIDS across the world.
The non profit organization that I worked with, Health Alliance International (HAI), works towards this goal through the prevention of transmission of HIV from mother to child or PMTCT during childbirth and their program is centered in Côte d’Ivoire. HAI looks to reinforcing the ministry of health (MOH) in the countries where they work believing that by working with the system in place and run by the governments already, there is a better chance for a lasting result once HAI leaves the country. It has been shown that helping the MOH in place has more of an effect because the country can take charge of its own future.
How to achieve this?
In developing countries, the PMTCT rate is about 99% because of the practices in place in hospitals and clinics to get mothers onto antiretrovirals (ART) during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however we see that in developing countries, this rate is only about 35% even though ART and HIV services are provided free from the government in Côte d’Ivoire. HAI is looking how to better the rate in Côte d’Ivoire using the in place programs. To find out what needed to be done, they conducted a study looking into the existing program to see what problems there were that prevented women from getting the treatment that they needed to have healthy babies.
What they found was that most often, the system was too complicated, took too long, or was too far away for women to gain access to the services they needed. By looking into the system they were able to establish that by changing simple things to up confidentiality, shorten the wait and increase the supply of medicine, they would be able help to better the system substantially.
The program is currently in its second phase which looking to measure the effectiveness of the measures put into place in Côte d’Ivoire. By streamlining the system and making the necessary changes to procedures, HAI hopes to increase the PMTCT rate in Côte d’Ivoire. The most important lesson to take from this intervention however is that it is not for the developed countries to come into the developing ones to tell them what to do, it is for those with the resources to help the country better themselves and work on their own infastructure to make lasting change. This MOH centered approach builds a long-lasting relationship between the country providing treatment and the patients who recieve it and therefore will create overall long lasting change in the fight to wipe out HIV and AIDS.
For more information, please visit http://www.healthallianceinternational.org/programs/country/cote-divoire/