Tagged: USAID

  • In Ghana, men who have sex with men often fail to access critical HIV information and services due to deep-rooted fear of social stigma. The Ghana Men’s Study, conducted in 2011,1 revealed a high level of HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men in five sites in Ghana (17.5 percent), with the highest rates in the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions: 34.4 percent and 13.6 percent respectively. This study also found that less than half of the men who have sex with men population surveyed had been reached with HIV prevention services.

    Since 2010 year, the Strengthening HIV/AIDS Response Partnership with Evidenced-Based Results (SHARPER) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by FHI 360, has worked to reduce HIV transmission among men who have sex with men and other most-at-risk groups. The project operates in 30 districts with high HIV prevalence, with the goal of reaching 178,000 individuals with health behavior messages and improved access to health services by June 2014.

    Before 2012, SHARPER relied on peer education alone to reach this key population. We found, however, that less than 10 percent of the men in this group referred by peer educators for HIV testing were positive. Clearly, new strategies were needed to identify those most at risk of HIV and link them with prevention and care services.

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  • Optifood: A new tool to improve diets and prevent child malnutrition in Guatemala

    What does it REALLY take to ensure young children get the proper nutrition to grow strong and healthy? This is an especially important question in poor rural communities in Guatemala, where about half of the children under five years of age are stunted (too short for their age—a sign of long-term deficits in the quantity and/or quality of food, including the right vitamins and minerals). In some parts of western Guatemala, more than eight in ten young children are stunted.

    Now there’s a new tool to help answer the question: Optifood is a computer software program, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA), and Blue Infinity, that provides scientific evidence on how to best improve children’s diets at the lowest possible cost using locally available foods. Optifood identifies nutrient gaps and suggests food combinations the local diet can fill—or come as close to filling. It also helps identify local foods’ limits in meeting nutrient needs and test strategies for filling remaining nutrient gaps, such as using fortified foods or micronutrient powders that mothers mix into infant or young children’s porridge.

    The Government of Guatemala is fighting stunting through its Zero Hunger Initiative, which aims to reduce stunting by 10 percent by 2015 and 24 percent by 2022 through nutrition, health, agriculture, and social safety net programs. The U.S. Government and USAID are supporting these efforts through Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives focused on the Western Highlands. USAID/Guatemala asked the USAID-funded FANTA/FHI 360 to help find strategies to improve the nutritional quality of children’s diets in the region. The challenge was to develop realistic and affordable diets for children that both meet their needs and are firmly based on scientific evidence. FANTA worked with its local partner, the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), to collect the diet data needed for Optifood from communities in two departments of the Western Highlands, Huehuetenango and Quiché. FANTA then used Optifood to analyze the information.

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  • Save a life: Vote for innovative Mobile for Reproductive Health program

    Degrees recently featured a post “Family planning and text messages: How mobile phones can save lives” from Kelly L’Engle, an FHI 360 scientist, that highlighted Mobile for Reproductive Health (m4RH), a text-message-based health communication program that provides lifesaving information about family planning methods to anyone with access to a mobile phone.

    The m4RH team is now very excited to be considered as a finalist for funding through Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development (Round III). A DevelopmentXChange event taking place in Washington, DC, July 29–31 represents the final stage of the funding competition, and the public showcase will feature displays of the projects for each finalist. The showcase will also feature live and online voting for a People’s Choice Award, which will be considered in final funding decisions.

    m4RH needs your votes!

    To vote for m4RH for the People’s Choice Award in person, attend the showcase from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 31st at the Ronald Reagan Building (1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004).

    To vote for m4RH for the People’s Choice Award online, please visit http://savinglivesatbirth.net/summaries/248 (you must register to vote).

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  • Reducing unmet need for family planning — one woman at a time

    Albertine,* a 34-year-old mother of five, was determined to get a long-acting family planning method. Because she lives in a remote part of Benin, a country of around 9 million in West Africa, she needed to travel many kilometers in the hot sun with her youngest child on her back to reach a health facility that provides contraceptives. Although she lives in an area where less than 1 percent of women use a modern family planning method, a community health worker had counseled and referred her to the health facility using a mobile phone-based tool (a service provided through the PRISE-C project, which is supported by University Research Co., LLC’s Center for Human Services and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development).

    Once she reached the health facility, Albertine insisted on getting what she called “the five-year method,” the two-rod Jadelle implant that is effective for five years of continuous use. She waited until the late afternoon — when the day’s immunization services were complete — before the midwife could see her. In a scene not uncommon in rural settings, Albertine lay across a small exam table and nursed her son on her right side while the midwife swabbed her left arm, injected the anesthesia, positioned the trocar and inserted the rods one by one. When the insertion was complete, Albertine smiled, took her implant card, and said she would be back in five years for another one!

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  • For more than 40 years, FHI 360 has played a pioneering role in increasing the availability, acceptance, safety, effectiveness and use of high-quality contraceptive methods throughout the world. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s PROGRESS project, FHI 360 works to improve access to family planning methods and services among underserved populations in selected countries. PROGRESS builds capacity in research and research utilization by strengthening both the supply of and the demand for program research results, as well as by refining contraceptive technologies and services. In this video, Project Director Dr. Baker Ndugga Maggwa describes how PROGRESS has empowered women in countries around the world.

  • ROADS II: Transforming corridors of risk into pathways of prevention and hope

  • FHI 360’s Julia Rosenbaum discusses the power of small doable actions in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs. FHI 360’s WASHplus program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports healthy households and communities by delivering interventions that lead to improvements in access, practices and health outcomes related to WASH and indoor air pollution. For more information on WASHplus, please visit www.washplus.org.

  • New Video Highlights Benefits of Family Planning to Microfinance Clients in India

    FPquoteImagine millions of women who want to limit their family size or space their next birth, but can’t because they lack access to family planning. Imagine that many of these women have no knowledge of family planning at all. Hard to imagine after decades of national and global investments in health? This is the reality for many families around the world, particularly in developing countries, where approximately 222 million women have an unmet need for family planning.

    Innovative approaches to reach people with family planning information and services are critical. Under FHI 360’s PROGRESS (Program Research for Strengthening Services) project —a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development to improve family planning services among underserved populations in developing countries — a key strategy is to move beyond the health sector to reach women and men of reproductive age who need family planning but might not otherwise have access to it. As non-health development programs reach a large proportion of the world’s poor, PROGRESS builds on these networks to bring family planning information and services to communities. Family planning has been shown to contribute to the broader development goals of poverty reduction, enhanced education, environmental sustainability and gender equality, and therefore fits well with the goals of non-health development programs. Currently, PROGRESS supports several intervention-based studies on integrating family planning into non-health programs such as agriculture, environment and microfinance.

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  • Preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Zambia: Replicating success

    In 2010, around 390,000 children under age 15 became infected with HIV, mainly through mother-to-child transmission. However, with effective interventions, mother-to-child transmission can be virtually eliminated to save the lives of thousands of children every year. One effective, evidence-based intervention is the preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) component of FHI 360’s Zambia Prevention, Care and Treatment Partnership (ZPCT). This USAID-funded program, which ran from 2004–2009 —and was renewed through 2014 as ZPCT II— serves as a model for other countries.

    The ZPCT I program increased the percentage of pregnant women in antenatal clinics who accepted HIV tests and received test results from 45 to 99 percent. Among women who tested positive for HIV, the program increased the percentage of women who received a full course of antiretroviral prophylaxis from 29 to 100 percent. Most importantly, observational data from ZPCT sites showed an HIV acquisition rate of 6.5 percent among children ages 0 to 6 weeks where the mother and infant received interventions, compared with 20 percent where no intervention was given to either mother or baby. The fact that this highly effective intervention costs merely US$113–126 per mother makes a compelling case for replicating it in other contexts.

    To support program designers who wish to replicate this program, FHI 360 produced Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV: Implementation Starter Kit. This starter kit describes and provides access to all programmatic materials and tools (such as training materials and job aids) used by ZPCT and provides basic guidance on replicating effective programs. We hope that such an effective and low-cost intervention will be reproduced in other country contexts and that it will generate the same life-saving results.

  • New USAID Policy and FHI 360’s Community YouthMapping Approach Let Young People Drive Development

    The recently released Youth in Development policy from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) puts youth squarely on the map in international development. As a supporter of positive youth development, I was particularly happy to see support for the engagement of youth, “elevating their voices and ensuring meaningful opportunities to contribute to resolving issues and promoting positive change in their communities and nations.”

    Putting young people in the driver’s seat of the development of their communities and countries actually works. Several years ago, on the hot, dusty streets of N’Djamena in Chad, I walked alongside pairs of energetic young people sporting white shirts, blue backpacks and baseball caps. The young women and men were interviewing community members in an outdoor market using a process we taught them called Community YouthMapping (CYM). Their goal was to collect data about gaps in services and opportunities for young people in the neighborhood. The same exercise was taking place throughout N’Djamena in diverse neighborhoods, northern and southern, Christian and Muslim, rich and poor. An analysis of the complete data set would be reported back to the communities and used by the youth and youth-led organizations to develop and implement social, cultural and economic activities for urban youth.

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