Call for advanced countries to help Africa plug into ITC medical care

Call for advanced countries to help Africa plug into ITC medical care

Africa is lagging far behind its European peers when it comes to doctors using the internet and social media to interact with patients, and it will take co-operation among nations to find a remedy and close the gap.

Addressing delegates from various organisations and countries around the world at the 21st conference organised by the Association of Medical Councils of Africa (Amcoa) in Cape Town, Health Department director-general Malebona Matsoso said it was time for advanced countries to share their experiences with those less fortunate.

She said although only 29% of people in Africa used the internet, in Europe this figure stood at 79%.

Matsoso emphasised that technology and social media had their own disadvantages when it came to the medical profession, as in some instances it could not allow doctor/patient relations and confidentiality.

“It is a new era in which every person can be assessed from far, many kilometres away. It is no secret that, as a society, information techno- logy has become a way of life and we do get benefits from the internet, but we need to use it cautiously,” said Matsoso.

“This mobile technology, as powerful as it is – you can talk to someone on the other side of the line, who could pretend to be a doctor but they are not – but still the computer technology has improved some aspects of the medical profession,” she pointed out.

She said patients were now opting for internet advice rather than visiting healthcare centres because in healthcare centres there were long queues.

Health Professions Council of SA president Kgosi Letlape said although medical practitioners were starting to use technology and internet communications with their patients, “the profession’s basics have not changed and should be adhered to at all times”.

“The rules still apply. You still put patients first and maintain patient confidentiality,” said Letlape.

Amcoa president George Magoha said even though medical practitioners were talking to each other about the profession’s challenges, “I think we would do a lot more (engagements)”.

He said engaging patients on the internet had its own disadvantages.

“How do we make sure you’re not talking to a robot, programmed to interact with patients?” asked Magoha.

He said use of the internet when dealing with patients “should be interrogated”.

Medical exercise in Cameroon enhances Army readiness

Medical exercise in Cameroon enhances Army readiness

GAROUA, Cameroon — As the sun begins to peek over the horizon, a 10-person Army medical team from the 212th Combat Support Hospital makes its way through the thick morning fog at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, mostly in silence. Some of the team members boarding the waiting C-130 Hercules aircraft have already been to the African continent, but for most, this is their first real Army mission and their first time going to Africa.

“I’m nervous. A new place, new people, something different — it always gives me a bit of anxiety,” said Army Spc. Kess Houck, an operating room technician with the 212th Combat Support Hospital, taking in her surroundings right after touching down Aug. 5 at the military airstrip here. The team was supporting U.S. Army Africa-led Medical Readiness Training Exercise 17-5, which was held at the Military Hospital of Garoua. This exercise was the fifth and final such exercise in the 2017 series.

Unlike previous iterations this year that U.S. Army Africa facilitated on the African continent, this one allows the team to live on an established contingency location and work in northern Cameroon, outside of the partnered country’s capital. The lodging placed the soldiers in a field setting and simulated a deployed environment. For the team, field life is familiar.

“We spend a lot of time in the field, working as a unit and setting up a combat support hospital that is able to perform surgeries in no more than 72 hours,” said Army Capt. Charmayne Pope, an operations officer for MEDRETE 17-5 and a company commander for the 212th Combat Support Hospital. “That’s the mission of a CSH. We are a tailorable rapidly deployable surgical treatment facility with inpatient capacity.”

SETTING UP

Landing on an airstrip, the group took in the difference in terrain and temperature. Escorted off the flight line by members of the local U.S. task force and transported to a green tent with six cots lining each side, each team member methodically chose their personal spaces for the next two weeks. Assessing how to make the tight quarters more functional, some strung up 550 cord, a versatile 7-strand nylon paracord, while others put up “privacy walls’ to accommodate the mixed-gender living conditions.

While setting up their lodging is a familiar task for members of this unit, they were not required to set up their own hospital facility in an austere environment. This exercise enabled them to work at a partnered nation’s established and alternatively resourced medical facility, shoulder to shoulder with their Cameroonian counterparts.

The U.S. group, ranging in age, gender and professional skill level, was equipped with a full surgical and emergency medical team supported by administrative personnel. The experienced personnel balanced the neophytes and increased the training possibilities available to the team. Each junior professional paired up with senior team members throughout the exercise, and the twosome then partnered with Cameroonian medical staff.

Skilled, but less experienced team members were deliberately chosen to participate because of their potential to positively influence the future of their career field, Pope said.

“We invested in the Army’s future. We chose certain people to allow them to continue growing in their field,” she added.

ESTABLISHING RELATIONSHIPS

Being the first MEDRETE U.S. Army Africa has facilitated in this region, the team concentrated on establishing professional and personal relationships with their Cameroonian counterparts to set the stage for future collaborations. Throughout the two-week exercise, the team rotated personnel through the different areas of the hospital — emergency room, operating room, patient wards and clinics — to offer them a deeper understanding of the processes and an opportunity to interact with all the Cameroonian army medical staff.

The MEDRETE team’s junior medic was able to observe a routine surgery the U.S. surgical team and their Cameroonian counterparts performed together. The young soldier entered the operating room wearing borrowed green scrubs and watched as the surgeons and technicians worked together.

“It was my first time in an actual operating room,” Army Pfc. Jason Macha said. “Watching our team members partner with the Cameroonian staff was very interesting to watch. I didn’t realize how tedious surgery was, and it was an opportunity I was glad to have.”

More seasoned members of the team also witnessed things they hadn’t seen before. Emergency room physician Army Maj. (Dr.) Warren Johnson, who is 10 years into his career, saw two separate pathologies that he hasn’t witnessed before: bilateral kidney stones severe enough to cause renal obstruction and gestational transfer of malaria.

“A mission like this opens eyes,” Pope said. “It exposes my medical personnel to different environments, allowing them to see treatment of patients with different techniques, with less equipment, and challenges them to provide the same level of care with less.”

The gained knowledge of different treatment processes and exposure to an alternatively resourced environment benefits the American soldiers in their individual medical capacities, said Army Capt. Matthew Veith, a critical care nurse.

“[The exercise] has offered our team the chance to gain knowledge on how our allies and partners do business,” he added. “There are some obvious differences and some obvious challenges. … I was honored to be a part of this mission, and working with their team only strengthens the Army medical capabilities and readiness in the future.”

Sixty-Seventh WHO Regional Committee for Africa

Sixty-Seventh WHO Regional Committee for Africa

Good morning. Thank you, Master of Ceremonies; your Excellency, President Robert Mugabe; honourable Minister of Health of Zimbabwe, Dr David Pagwesese Parirenyatwa; the outgoing chairman of the sixty-sixth session of the RC, Dr Nascimento do Rosario; Your Excellency, Mrs Amira Elfadil, the African Union Commission of Social Affairs, honourable ministers, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It makes me very proud to stand before you as the first African Director-General of WHO. I thank you for your encouragement and support throughout my campaign. When my nomination was endorsed at the African Union, His Excellency President Mugabe was chairing the summit, and it is fitting that the Regional Committee is here in Zimbabwe. So thank you so much, Your Excellency. I would also like to thank my brother, the foreign minister of Zimbabwe, Minister Simbarashe, for his support under the guidance of President Mugabe.

I also want to acknowledge the outstanding work of my sister Dr Moeti on behalf of Africa. Africa is a magnificent continent — and working all together we will make it even healthier. It is the unity of Africa that put me in this position, although many were doubting, but we have shown that Africa’s potent force is its unity. I am now the DG for the whole world, and Africa also understand that, and together we will serve the whole world.

The campaign may be over, but our work together is just beginning, and I will continue to seek your support and encouragement.

Let me start by describing what for me was the most compelling moment since I began as Director-General less than 60 days ago. I visited Yemen where I met a mother and her malnourished child. They had travelled for hours to reach the health centre. The mother was begging the medical staff to take care of her child. But when I looked at the mother, I could see that she was skin and bone. She could well die before her child. But she was focused only on her child, not herself.

It’s this moment of human suffering that was my moment of truth. That moment defines what WHO does and why WHO exists. We must not rest until that child and that mother are saved – until there are no mothers and children in that circumstance. Let us all work together to that noble end.

Now, I am sure many of you are wondering how WHO will change in the weeks and months and years ahead, so I would like to start by outlining how I view our work during this transition period.

In times of transition it’s vitally important that we continue our important ongoing work; what I call our day-to-day business. Every day, WHO staff around the world are working hard to improve health at the country level in thousands of ways, small and large. I am ensuring this work continues without interruption.

But I have also heard from you that there is a set of urgent priorities on which we can and must act immediately. So far, I have launched several “fast track initiatives” such as:

boosting our effectiveness in emergencies through daily briefings;
enhancing our governance by working with the Officers of the Executive Board (“the Bureau”) to examine the work of the Executive Board and the Assembly to make it more strategic;
making WHO an even better place to work;
strengthening WHO’s image through better communications;
rethinking resource mobilisation by learning from others;
pursuing greater value for money in our travel and other expenditures;
examining climate change in small-island nations; and
planning for the polio transition.
These are the immediate priorities. But we have also begun to lay the groundwork for the larger, transformative changes we need to make WHO an organization better able to meet the health challenges of the 21st century.

We started by listening to your ideas. I initiated an “Ideas for Change” programme within WHO to stimulate fresh thinking and innovative ideas at all levels of the organization. We have harvested hundreds of great suggestions that we are now organizing into a strategic plan.

In that regard, we have started work on shaping our next General Programme of Work which will guide the strategy of WHO between 2019 and 2023.

You will be considering a draft concept note on the GPW tomorrow. I urge you to think of this as a first draft of the ideas that will go into the GPW.

We cannot proceed without your input. This is your WHO, and its priorities are ultimately determined by you, the Member States. Over the coming days, weeks and months, we will need your feedback and ideas to shape the GPW; to shape the WHO you want.

Let me take a few moments to sketch the GPW’s contours for you.

Most importantly, the starting point of our Global Programme of Work must be the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are the lens through which we must see all our work. They are the priorities that you, the Member States, have agreed on, and must therefore be our priorities.

The SDGs feature one goal devoted explicitly to health, but the fact is that health either contributes to, or benefits from, almost all the other goals. And some of the biggest health gains will come from improvements outside the health sector. It is therefore essential that WHO engages with partners in all relevant sectors to drive progress.

Within the context of the SDGs, the concept note for the Global Programme of Work proposes the following mission for WHO: to keep the world safe, improve health and serve the vulnerable. Let me repeat that: keep the world safe, improve health and serve the vulnerable. This is how I see the mission of WHO. To achieve that mission, we propose five strategic priorities.

First, the world expects WHO to be able to prevent, detect and respond to epidemics. I do not need to convince you of that. Ebola taught us a very painful lesson that we must never forget. And indeed, we are already learning. As my sister Dr Moeti said, when Ebola struck the Democratic Republic of the Congo earlier this year, early and decisive action ensured that the outbreak was quickly contained.

Our work on health emergencies must also include finishing the job of wiping polio from the face of the earth, and fighting the spread of antimicrobial resistance. Both demand the same urgency as a sudden outbreak.

The second priority is linked closely to the first: to provide health services in emergencies and help to rebuild health systems in fragile, conflict and vulnerable states.

For example, in the aftermath of the tragic mudslide in Freetown this month, WHO was there, distributing cholera kits, training health workers and providing psychological first aid for survivors. I would like to join Dr Moeti and use this opportunity to express my condolences and sympathy to the government and people of Sierra Leone.

The third priority is helping countries strengthen health systems to progress towards universal health coverage. I have said all roads lead to universal health coverage. Health systems are the glue that binds together all the priorities in the General Programme of Work. Access to health care is a human right. Universal health coverage is a political choice I urge countries to make.

The fourth priority is to drive progress towards the specific SDG health targets. I have already spoken about the SDGs as the frame within which we see all our work, but we also carry the responsibility of providing the practical tools and technical know-how to help countries advance towards the specific health targets.

We will focus our attention on four areas: improving the health of women, children and adolescents; ending the epidemics of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and other infectious diseases; preventing premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases; and protecting against the health impacts of climate change and environmental problems.

Finally, we provide the world’s governance platform for health. This is one of WHO’s key comparative advantages; only WHO has the authority and credibility to convene the numerous players in global health and to build consensus towards achieving shared goals. WHO can and must therefore play a vital role in orchestrating the increasingly complex global health architecture.

These are the five priorities that we are proposing will define the work of WHO in the coming years.

Now, we all know that strategies sometimes just sit on the shelf. So the draft concept note pays attention not only to what WHO will do but how it will do it (and also of course why it should do it). It lists a number of enablers, which I will not repeat here, but also several big shifts I will just highlight.

First, we will focus on outcomes and impact. It’s one thing to write an action plan; it’s another to put a plan into action. The end result of everything we do is not the publication of a report or a guideline, but the people whose health is protected or promoted by it.

Second, we will set priorities. WHO cannot do everything; nor should we try.

Third, WHO will become more operational, especially in fragile, vulnerable and conflict states.

Fourth, we must put countries at the centre of WHO’s work. This seems obvious, but it bears repeating. Results don’t happen in Geneva or in regional offices; they happen in countries. Our role is to support you, our Member States, and to strengthen your health systems, achieve universal health coverage for your people and protect against epidemics in your countries. To do that, you must be in the driver’s seat.

Finally, or fifth, WHO will provide political leadership by advocating for health with world leaders. I have already had first-hand experience of the importance of mobilising political commitment for health. My first trip as DG was to Addis Ababa to the African Union Summit, and a few days later, I had the honour of addressing the G20 Summit in Hamburg. Both in the African Union and Hamburg I have seen heightened political commitment, and we made the case for health security and universal health coverage to some of the most powerful leaders at the G20.

Last week, I enjoyed a successful trip to China, which has generously agreed to increase its voluntary contribution to WHO by 50%, and another successful trip to the US and others.

WHO should not be shy about engaging with world leaders. Our cause is too important; the stakes are too high. Not only technically, but we should also work politically.

Everywhere I go, I am heartened by the enthusiasm I see for health at the highest political level. I also see huge enthusiasm for WHO and the work that you all do. I know from my own personal experience that political will is the key ingredient for change. It is not the only ingredient, but without it, change is much harder to achieve. That’s why they call it political intervention – it’s surgical intervention. For a paradigm shift, we need political intervention.

My friends, we are here because we care about the health of the world’s people. They must be foremost in all our minds this week.

The challenges we face are great. So must be our ambitions.

Let me return to the image of that mother and child I met in Yemen. That’s why I’m here. Let this image be our guide; let our collective images guide WHO.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our noble cause. And thank you, Your Excellency President Mugabe, for joining us despite your busy schedule. This shows your strong commitment to health, and we value that, for coming all the way from Harare to join us. Please accept, Your Excellency, my greatest respect and appreciation.

BLOOD-CARRYING, LIFE-SAVING DRONES TAKE OFF FOR TANZANIA

BLOOD-CARRYING, LIFE-SAVING DRONES TAKE OFF FOR TANZANIA

LAST MONTH IN Rwanda, a young woman started bleeding after giving birth by C-section. Try as they might, her doctors couldn’t stop it. They’d already transfused the two units of matching blood that they had on-hand. They could have called the national blood bank in the capital of Kigali to request more, but ordering it, and sending it the 25 miles over mountainous roads to the hospital would take up to four hours. The woman didn’t have that kind of time.

Desperate, the doctors called a distribution center near Kigali, where clinic workers and a flight crew loaded a series of small, unmanned aircraft with the needed supplies and launched them into the sky. Within 45 minutes, they dispatched seven units of red blood cells, four units of plasma, and two units of platelets, more than circulates through the entire human body.

Each drone needed just 15 minutes to reach the hospital, where it dropped its payload on a pre-determined landing zone. Doctors grabbed the supplies and used them to stabilize the 24-year-old patient.

Delivering medical deliveries by drone has become almost routine in Rwanda since the California startup Zipline arrived in October. “We do this every day,” says company founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo. Although his company’s hardware helped save that woman’s life, he gives all the credit to the team, recruited from the surrounding community, at the distribution center. “That’s not just her life,” he says, “that’s a kid who has a mom.”

Now, Zipline is expanding into neighboring Tanzania, establishing the world’s largest national drone delivery service. The Tanzanian government wants to make as many as 2,000 daily deliveries from four distribution centers serving an area roughly the size of Texas and Louisiana.

Zipline has performed about 1,400 deliveries in Rwanda, about a quarter of them in emergencies. Its drones have clocked 60,000 , delivering blood to areas ground vehicles can’t reach quickly, or at all during the rainy season that turns roads to mud.

For the new service, Zipline plans to fly upgraded versions of its fixed-wing drones, which have a 6-foot wingspan and can cruise at 70 mph. Each can carry 3 pounds of cargo (one unit of blood weighs roughly 1.2 pounds), and the batteries can make a round trip of 100 miles. Folded wax paper parachutes and cardboard cargo bays make the drones both durable and cheap to operate and repair. “The new vehicle is highly modular,” says Rinaudo.
“If a sensor is giving weird readings, it’s super fast to replace that.”

Tanzania’s first distribution center is slated for Dodoma, the capital, and will be up and running early next year. Three more will follow initially, with an eventual plan to create a network to serve the nation’s 55 million citizens. That’s a huge expansion over the operation in Rwanda, a much smaller country, where the drones currently reach around half of the population of 12 million.1 Each center will run a fleet of 30 drones, enough for 500 deliveries daily. In addition to blood, they’ll carry emergency vaccines, HIV medications, and supplies like IV tubes, to 5,640 public health facilities.

Zipline makes a habit of recruiting and training local engineers, health workers, and flight operators. As was the case in Rwanda, Rinaudo knows his team will have to work with local communities to emphasize the aircraft perform humanitarian, not military or surveillance, work.

The drones will supplement the government’s sporadic overland deliveries. “That mission can be a challenge during emergencies, times of unexpected demand, bad weather, or for small but critical orders,” Laurean Bwanakunu, director general of the country’s medical stores department, said in a statement. “Using drones for just-in-time deliveries will allow us to provide health facilities with complete access to vital medical products no matter the circumstance.”

While Zipline might expand further in Africa, Rinaudo believes its services could be useful globally. “Rural healthcare is a huge problem in the US too,” he says.

But launching in America requires wrangling with restrictive regulations that have limited drone deliveries to the occasional test, like 7-Eleven’s Slurpee shipment in Reno, Nevada, or Flirtey’s drug dropoff in Virginia. Widespread operation requires approval from the FAA, which worries about keeping drones away from conventional aircraft.

But remote areas of the country—rural Native American reservations, for example—far from hospitals, could certainly benefit from a Zipline-like service. And from there, it’s not such a big leap to launching a service to get you that Amazon package you so desperately need.

NAF Offers Free Medical Outreach To 100 IDPs In Lagos

NAF Offers Free Medical Outreach To 100 IDPs In Lagos

No fewer than 100 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) benefited from a free medical outreach offered by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Friday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the free treatment was part of activities by the force to end the African Partnership Flight (APF) which started from Aug. 14 to Aug. 18.

The event took place at the Sam Ethnan Airforce Base, Ikeja, Lagos.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, who spoke at the closing ceremony, said the APF was designed to build strong partnerships to foster regional stability and security.

Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Yahaya, said the exercise was also to foster security through formal alliances, partnerships and exchange of ideas among African air forces.

“I strongly believe that the specific objectives of this five-day event which culminated in a free medical outreach to about 100 IDPs have been largely achieved.

“I hope you will utilise the knowledge acquired to enhance the present effort at providing appropriate medical care in and outside the theatre of operation in the sub-region, particularly to counter insurgency operation in Lake Chad region and North Eastern Nigeria.

“I particularly wish to express my gratitude to the United States Air Forces Europe Command for selecting Nigeria to co-host this event and to our sister African countries for coming here to share their experiences,’’ he said.

The Minister of Defence, Mr Mansur Dan-Ali, who was Special Guest of Honour, said that the motivation of the programme was aimed at capacity building and mutual cooperation.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Amb. Danjuma Sheni, he said the success in overcoming various security challenges confronting African countries depended on joint operations with neighbouring and allied countries.

“This is more so as the enemy in today’s wars appear to be largely the same, terrorism, and its range of operation cuts across boundaries of nations.

“Immediate examples are the Boko Haram and Al-Shabbab insurgencies in the North East Nigeria and East Africa, respectively.
“As sister and allied nations, we must therefore begin to evolve ways of thinking and training together, developing common doctrines and harnessing human and material resources to achieve set objectives,’’ he said.

According to him, training programmes like this are one of the ways to enhance interoperability.

“I am pleased that some participants from the Lake Chad basin countries which constitute the multinational joint task force that was created to confront the challenges of Boko Haram insurgents took part in this programme.

“I believe your participation will augur well for the success of our operation against the Boko Haram insurgents,’’ he said.

Mr Muhammadu Audu, one of the beneficiaries, expressed appreciation to the force for the gesture.

Also, Mr Abdulazeez Aliyu, another beneficiary, told NAN that he was happy for the gesture and prayed that the force would continue to succeed in its constitutional roles.

NAN also reports that Chad, Niger and Benin Republic participated in the US-backed APF – a multilateral military-to-military engagement designed to
boost African cooperation in aviation.

The medical outreach was used to render free medical check-ups and consultations, laboratory investigations, malaria and blood sugar tests and the provision of drugs.

Also, there were free blood pressure checks, eye examinations, as well as issuance of free eye glasses and free food to the IDPs.
NAF personnel gave health talks on topical issues relating to HIV/AIDS, malaria, the environment, personal and oral hygiene.

The medical team also distributed treated mosquito nets to the IDPs. (NAN)

West African countries offer aid to Sierra Leone, China donates $1m

West African countries offer aid to Sierra Leone, China donates $1m

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe and Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) donated $500,000 to President Ernest Bai Koroma during his visit to the country on Thursday.

He expressed his country and the region’s sympathies to Sierra Leoneans and wished that the money could help in emergency response efforts.

Gnassingbe’s gesture was complemented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De Souza, who donated $300,000 for food and medical aid on behalf of the regional body.

De Souza accompanied the Chairperson Faure Gnassingbe to Freetown.

Senegal and the Ivory Coast sent delegations to Freetown on Wednesday to express their condolences to President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Senegal donated $100,000 and the Ivory Coast gave a tonne and a half of medical supplies.

The Guinean President and African Union Chairperson Alpha Conde visited the country a day earlier to personally express his sympathies.

On Thursday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited Freetown and joined President Koroma at the burial of the victims.

Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also said on Thursday that his country is sending relief items to Sierra Leone to aid in the recovery process.

The Ghana government has also set up a centre at the foreign affairs ministry to receive donations from the public to be sent to Sierra Leone.

Groups, organisations and individuals have also launched campaigns for donations to support victims of the mudslide that was caused by torrential rains.

President Ernest Bai Koroma, who appealed for urgent support after the disaster, praised the show of solidarity by the countries in the region.

“Such solidarity shows a sense of belonging in the typical African way when one of us is facing difficulties,” he said on Thursday.

He described the tragedy as unprecedented and thanked the donors for the timely intervention.

China made the biggest donation since the disaster struck by offering a million dollars for disaster relief including aid workers to offer medical help to injured victims.

The African Union Commission had called on Africans in the continent, diaspora and international partners to support Sierra Leone.

Here are 5 ways you can help fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa and globally

Here are 5 ways you can help fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa and globally

We just finished our POSITIVE series — stories of women and girls under the age of 24 living with HIV in South Africa. We called our Series POSITIVE not only because it centers on the stories of HIV-positive women and girls, but also because it was important to us to highlight stories of people who do not see such a diagnosis as an ending.

By talking to and learning from women who identify as HIVictors and help young people control their own sex education, it’s clear that there are people dedicated to positive solutions regarding HIV rates for young women.

If you were moved by our reporting, here are five ways that you can be part of the solution to this problem:

1. Learn the basics with a graphic novel, keep up with the latest research while you’re scanning your feeds, or raise money while hanging with your friends. Our pop culture hasn’t always had the best track record of depicting HIV/AIDS in nuanced, empathetic ways, but now you can do things like read this YA graphic novel on HIV transmission and prevention or follow orgs that produce cutting-edge research, like The HIV Medical Association or Columbia University’s HIV research arm, on Twitter. If you’d prefer to get your activism on with your favorite people, check out MTVStayingAlive.org for info on events and challenges you can attend together.

2. Support expansion of prevention methods. We told you about a medical trial that gives young women in South Africa more treatment options. You can donate to the clinic running that trial here, or learn more about the WITS Reproductive Health Institute that helps fund that trial and others like it, here.

3. Surround yourself with art that gives South African women a voice. We interviewed Lady Skollie, a South African visual artist who makes art spotlighting the value of female sexual expression and the threat of gender-based violence. You can look at, share images of, and ask about buying pieces from her her London gallery here, or learn more about her newest exhibition here. Also, Lady Skollie’s work is hugely influenced by her equally fierce and politically active sister Kim Windvogel, who runs this organization dedicated to educating young people about sex, gender, and reproductive rights.

If music is more your thing, check out the album Amazulu by South African singer Amanda Black, which tackles themes of empowerment and self-acceptance wrapped in smooth R&B and energetic hip-hop.

4. Volunteer in your neck of the woods or abroad. VolunteerMatch has a list of HIV/AIDS organizations in the United States that need volunteers, or you could check out this list of HIV/AIDS NGOs in South Africa that help train educators and get medicine and support to people who need it.

5. Support sex ed that kids will actually listen to. We talked to some youth radio reporters with the Children’s Radio Foundation in this story on Dr. Eve’s efforts to use the radio to get solid sex ed to young people in South Africa.

Bawumia set for Sierra Leone with $1m supplies for disaster victims

Bawumia set for Sierra Leone with $1m supplies for disaster victims

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia is expected to lead a government delegation to Sierra Leone where a tragic natural disaster has left about 400 dead and more than 600 displaced.

A statement from the Information Ministry said the Vice President will leave Accra on Saturday to present relief items which government says is valued at $1million.

The items include food, medicines, clothes and logistics for temporary shelters.

The move comes five days after a tragedy left the nation in mourning when rains on Monday triggered flooding and mudslide.
Other West African countries have been sending relief items to the beleaguered nation after its President, Ernest Bai Koroma made a desperate call for help.

Cote d’Ivoire is sending a plane full of drugs and medical equipment and the Minister of Health of that country is leading the delegation.

Togolese President, Faure Gnassingbe and Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has donated $500,000 to President Koroma during his visit to the country on Thursday.

Senegal has donated $100,000. The biggest donor in terms of cash, has been China, offering a million dollars for disaster relief including aid workers to offer medical help to injured victims.

The West Africa Health Organisation, WAHO, the Health Institution of the regional bloc ECOWAS, is donating a sum of 300,000 dollars to the government of Sierra Leone.

Facing the threat of disease, people in Sierra Leone on Wednesday began burying hundreds of victims of a mudslide.

Compassus staffer picked for South Africa healthcare mission

Compassus staffer picked for South Africa healthcare mission

Compassus has selected Kammy Heuett, of Lakeside, to join a team of medical volunteers to assist Living Hope, the company’s sister hospice program in Cape Town, South Africa.

Her mission trip began Aug. 12 and will end Aug. 20.

The Compassus team, which includes two physicians, five registered nurses, two certified nursing assistants, a social worker, volunteer coordinator and chaplain, spent a week in Cape Town educating and assisting the Living Hope staff.

“I am most looking forward to an increased awareness of the suffering throughout South Africa, which I can reconcile within my own culture,” Heuett, director of clinical services for Compassus-Lakeside, said about her opportunity to participate. “I hope to spread the knowledge of our similarities instead of our differences and to teach that suffering is not unique to South Africa, rather it is how we as a patient, family or community choose to respond to suffering that makes us different.”

Through a partnership started in 2011, Compassus donates monetary aid, medical supplies and health care expertise to support Living Hope’s health care and hospice services in the impoverished township communities of Cape Town.

Living Hope, a ministry-based nonprofit, offers health care services, counseling and education to more than 200,000 underprivileged residents. Living Hope’s programs focus on improving general health and hospice care, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and economic empowerment. Living Hope provides healthcare for more than 36,000 South Africans annually through in-home visits, medical clinics and a 22-bed inpatient hospice center.

Compassus supports Living Hope in three ways: funding, education and hands-on medical assistance. The company matches voluntary employee donations to the dollar every year and also assists Living Hope with necessary medical supplies and equipment.

“As members of the hospice team, we have a calling to deliver compassionate care not only in our local communities, but also to those around the world. This partnership allows us the opportunity to do both,” said Debra Brackey, executive director of Compassus-Lakeside. “We are proud of Kammy and her fellow volunteers for embarking on this journey to help the sick and impoverished people of South Africa, and look forward to hearing about their experiences and how we can use what they learned on their trip here at home.”

Medical Exercise in Cameroon Enhances Army Readiness

Medical Exercise in Cameroon Enhances Army Readiness

As the sun begins to peek over the horizon, a 10-person Army medical team from the 212th Combat Support Hospital makes its way through the thick morning fog at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, mostly in silence. Some of the team members boarding the waiting C-130 Hercules aircraft have already been to the African continent, but for most, this is their first real Army mission and first time going to Africa.

“I’m nervous. A new place, new people, something different — it always gives me a bit of anxiety,” said Army Spc. Kess Houck, an operating room technician with the 212th CSH, taking in her surroundings right after touching down Aug. 5 at the military airstrip here. The team was supporting U.S. Army Africa-led Medical Readiness Training Exercise 17-5, which was held at the Military Hospital of Garoua. This exercise was the fifth and final such exercise in the 2017 series.

Unlike previous iterations this year that U.S. Army Africa facilitated on the African continent, this one allows the team to live on an established contingency location and work in northern Cameroon, outside of the partnered country’s capital. The lodging placed the soldiers in a field setting and simulated a deployed environment. For the team, field life is familiar.

“We spend a lot of time in the field, working as a unit and setting up a combat support hospital that is able to perform surgeries in no more than 72 hours,” said Army Capt. Charmayne Pope, an operations officer for MEDRETE 17-5 and a company commander for the 212th CSH. “That’s the mission of a CSH. We are a tailorable rapidly deployable surgical treatment facility with inpatient capacity.”

Setting Up

Landing on an airstrip, the group took in the difference in terrain and temperature. Escorted off the flight line by members of the local U.S. task force and transported to a green tent with six cots lining each side, each team member methodically chose their personal spaces for the next two weeks. Assessing how to make the tight quarters more functional, some strung up 550 cord, a versatile 7-strand nylon paracord, while others put up “privacy walls’ to accommodate the mixed-gender living conditions.

While setting up their lodging is a familiar task for members of this unit, they were not required to set up their own hospital facility in an austere environment. This exercise enabled them to work at a partnered nation’s established and alternatively resourced medical facility, shoulder to shoulder with their Cameroonian counterparts.

The U.S. group, ranging in age, gender and professional skill level, was equipped with a full surgical and emergency medical team supported by administrative personnel. The experienced personnel balanced the neophytes and increased the training possibilities available to the team. Each junior professional paired up with senior team members throughout the exercise, and the twosome then partnered with Cameroonian medical staff.

Skilled, but less experienced team members were deliberately chosen to participate because of their potential to positively influence the future of their career field, Pope said.

“We invested in the Army’s future. We chose certain people to allow them to continue growing in their field,” she added.

Establishing Relationships

Being the first MEDRETE U.S. Army Africa has facilitated in this region, the team concentrated on establishing professional and personal relationships with their Cameroonian counterparts to set the stage for future collaborations. Throughout the two-week exercise, the team rotated personnel through the different areas of the hospital — emergency room, operating room, patient wards and clinics — to offer them a deeper understanding of the processes and an opportunity to interact with all the Cameroonian army medical staff.

The MEDRETE team’s junior medic was able to observe a routine surgery the U.S. surgical team and their Cameroonian counterparts performed together. The young soldier entered the operating room wearing borrowed green scrubs and watched as the surgeons and technicians worked together.

“It was my first time in an actual operating room,” Army Pfc. Jason Macha said. “Watching our team members partner with the Cameroonian staff was very interesting to watch. I didn’t realize how tedious surgery was, and it was an opportunity I was glad to have.”

More seasoned members of the team also witnessed things they hadn’t seen before. Emergency room physician Army Maj. (Dr.) Warren Johnson, who is 10 years into his career, saw two separate pathologies that he hasn’t witnessed before: bilateral kidney stones severe enough to cause renal obstruction and gestational transfer of malaria.

“A mission like this opens eyes,” Pope said. “It exposes my medical personnel to different environments, allowing them to see treatment of patients with different techniques, with less equipment, and challenges them to provide the same level of care with less.”

The gained knowledge of different treatment processes and exposure to an alternatively resourced environment benefits the American soldiers in their individual medical capacities, said Army Capt. Matthew Veith, a critical care nurse..

“[The exercise] has offered our team the chance to gain knowledge on how our allies and partners do business,” he added. “There are some obvious differences and some obvious challenges. … I was honored to be a part of this mission, and working with their team only strengthens the Army medical capabilities and readiness in the future.”