Health

  • My tribute to Peter Lamptey’s lifelong contributions to global health

    A version of this post originally appeared on FHI 360’s R&E Search for Evidence blog.

    Known around the world, Prof. Peter Lamptey is a global health champion in any light. Many of you may know him from his early involvement in the global HIV response or from his fight to raise public awareness of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). I first heard Prof. Lamptey speak about the role of laboratory science in the NCD response at a conference plenary hosted by the African Society for Laboratory Medicine, my former employer. A compelling talk for sure, but notably his plenary was also my first significant introduction to FHI 360’s research.

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  • Research improves handwashing programs by uncovering drivers of behavior change

    A version of this post originally appeared on FHI 360’s R&E Search for Evidence blog.

    Evidence on the health and social benefits of handwashing is strong. We know that handwashing can prevent up to 40% of diarrheal diseases, and can lead to fewer school absences and increased economic productivity. However, many people don’t wash their hands at critical times, even when handwashing facilities are available. While research on behavior change has shown examples of approaches that lead to increased rates in handwashing, we’re still seeking to understand why people wash their hands, and how motivation for handwashing can be translated into programs that result in effective behavior change.

    In advance of Global Handwashing Day on October 15, USAID and the Global Handwashing Partnership – an international coalition with a Secretariat hosted by FHI 360 – organized a webinar on drivers for handwashing behavior change. The Partnership’s work focuses on promoting handwashing with soap as key to health and development, with an emphasis on connecting practitioners with research findings to inform their work. Our webinar speakers provided two examples of how research is exploring behavior change from cognitive (how we think about and understand handwashing) and automatic (how we can be unconsciously prompted to wash our hands) standpoints. In this blog post, I’ll summarize how the two examples show different ways of understanding human behavior and discuss how the findings help us understand what drives behavior change for handwashing.

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  • Preventing hunger in the Horn of Africa through improved community engagement

    Drought is threatening livelihoods in the Horn of Africa and is increasing the vulnerability of households to food insecurity, economic shocks and resource-based conflicts. Approximately 12 million people in the region are expected to need food aid in the coming months. A response that protects household assets and helps people grow their own food and minimize livestock losses is critical to their survival.

    Timely interventions, such as fodder production, are needed to keep livestock healthy, prevent a rise in hunger and deepen community engagement in building resilience to shocks. Beyond the drought, fodder production is also a system-level response to growing demand for animal source foods and the rapidly expanding dairy sector in Kenya in particular. This expansion has many positive aspects but does put pressure on sourcing the necessary animal feeds, further reason to explore and develop efficient and integrated animal feed and fodder production and the integration of crop-livestock production systems to ensure high land productivity.

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  • Three ways to turn science into practice to reduce HIV among key populations

    Later this month, leading scientists and cutting-edge thinkers will gather at the International AIDS Society’s 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science in Paris to discuss the latest scientific discoveries in HIV prevention, care and treatment. These discoveries hold the potential to accelerate progress toward the global 90-90-90 targets set forth by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). And, they are especially important for key populations — including men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and people who inject drugs — who shoulder a disproportionate burden of HIV. UNAIDS estimates that 45 percent of all new HIV infections among adults worldwide occur among these key populations and their sex partners. Reaching these groups with new technologies and approaches is essential to ending the epidemic.

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  • Standing up for science

    Now, more than ever, is a time to stand up for science. The U.S. administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 calls for severe cuts to several key science-generating institutions, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These cuts would result in a deterioration of the science that has allowed the United States to be the global leader in medicine, public health and environmental science. They would also stall progress in global development, an area which has benefited greatly from the many lifesaving solutions produced through science.

    Given the administration’s apparent disregard for science, we should take a step back and ask ourselves what may seem like a simple question: What is science and why does it matter? Of the many definitions, the most basic is the standard dictionary definition: a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular matter. More importantly though, science is a process or way of thinking that seeks to reveal the “truth.” Not knowing the truth about something is like driving through a heavy fog. Science can cut through this fog and reveal the truth.

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  • Every year, the International AIDS Society (IAS) holds the largest open scientific conference on HIV and AIDS-related issues. This year’s conference, IAS 2017, will take place in July in Paris. FHI 360 is a media partner with IAS 2017, and in the lead-up to this year’s conference, we are coordinating Facebook Live conversations with experts who will be speaking there.

    One U.S. expert who will present at the conference is Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Fauci was recently in Washington, DC, to speak at the annual meeting of the HIV Prevention Trials Network. After his plenary talk, Dr. Fauci sat down with FHI 360’s Dr. Otto Chabikuli, Director of Global Health, Population and Nutrition, for a Facebook Live chat on the science of HIV. Dr. Fauci talked about his experience working in HIV research for more than 35 years, addressing issues such as what a cure for HIV might look like, the multiple ways to prevent HIV infection, treatment as prevention, and the projects that his team is currently working on.

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  • Strengthening the global health workforce

    The World Health Organization estimates that the current shortage of global health care workers is 7.2 million. Without intervention, this number will soar to 18 million by 2030. Rachel Deussom, an FHI 360 expert on the health workforce and Senior Technical Officer, Human Resources for Health, Health Systems Strengthening, hosted a conversation with other FHI 360 colleagues to examine the shortage, its underlying causes and potential solutions.

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  • Should PEPFAR be renamed the “President’s Epidemiologic Plan for AIDS Relief”?

    The full version of this post originally appeared on R&E Search for Evidence. Reposted with permission.

    The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is a remarkable success story built on the effective use of data. The achievements of this landmark initiative have played a central role in getting us to the point where we can finally talk about controlling the HIV epidemic and creating an AIDS-free generation.

    Through 2016, US$70 billion has been invested in this unprecedented disease control effort. The accomplishments to date have been extraordinary and unimaginable just a few years ago: In 2016 alone, 74 million people were tested for HIV infection; since the start of PEPFAR, 2 million babies were born HIV-free due to women receiving prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) treatment; 12 million voluntary medical male circumcisions have been performed; and PEPFAR accounted for 12 million of the 18 million people globally receiving life-extending antiretroviral therapy (ART).

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  • Global health in the age of the SDGs

    Over the past 15 years, we have witnessed major declines in child and maternal mortality and progress in the fight against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria in countries around the world. Still, an estimated 5.9 million children under 5 died in 2015, mostly from preventable causes. That same year, 2.1 million people became newly infected with HIV, and an estimated 214 million people contracted malaria.

    In this podcast, I speak with Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, an eminent physician and CEO of Big Win Philanthropy, an independent foundation that invests in children and young people in developing countries to improve their lives and to maximize demographic dividends for long-term economic growth.

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  • Let’s acknowledge that gender-based violence also affects transgender people and other key populations

    This blog also appears on the LINKAGES blog.

    Last year, a friend and colleague, Beyonce Karungi, wrote about what it is like to be a transgender woman in Uganda. She talked about being rejected by family members and about being beaten up and burned with cigarettes for being transgender. She described being harassed by police who wanted to make her a “proper man.” She recounted being raped at gunpoint by a client when she was a sex worker, because she insisted that he use a condom. Beyonce wrote that “… from the standpoint of a transgender woman like myself — our human rights and unique challenges are not addressed and not given the attention they deserve.”

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