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Selected Category: HIV/AIDS

My journey into Global Health: Dr. Pragna Patel

Categories: cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS

Dr. Patel at her family’s clinic in India where they provide health services to indigent communities.

Dr. Patel at her family’s clinic in India where they provide health services to indigent communities.

Dr. Pragna Patel says “Taking the road less travelled and working for CDC on HIV and NCD has been a worthwhile journey”

 Dr. Pragna Patel

Dr. Pragna Patel

As a young girl growing up in New York City, I would often help out at my father’s pediatric clinic in an indigent neighborhood of the Bronx.  My father was a caring and compassionate doctor whom I truly admired and wanted emulate by providing a service to society in a meaningful way.  At that time, I never imagined that I would follow in his footsteps and become a physician. Taking the road less travelled, joining the US Public Health Service (USPHS) and working with CDC has been a circuitous, but rewarding experience and well worth the journey.

Growing up as a daughter of immigrant parents from India, I always had a desire to return to their native country, and in some way, ‘give back’.  Years later while I was a medical student, I spent two months living and working in a village in India and saw things that I never imagined possible. One day, I was standing in the operating room and my only hope in that moment was that the fly buzzing around my head would not land in the open abdomen of the patient on the table. As I stood there wearing blood-stained flip flops and gloves that had been autoclaved for re-use, I began thinking about the conditions in India and the need to improve the country’s medical care system.  Seeing a ward full of beds occupied by two people and families providing nursing care for their loved ones was very sobering for me and sparked my interest in public health.

2014: A pivotal year for the HIV response in Malawi

Categories: HIV/AIDS, Malawi

How we refined and refocused programs using a data-driven approach

Beth A. Tippett Barr, DrPH Chief of Health Services, CDC Malawi

Beth A. Tippett Barr, DrPH Chief of Health Services, CDC Malawi

The appointment of Dr. Deborah Birx as the new Global AIDS Coordinator in May 2014 heralded an enormous change in the PEPFAR world:  Within the span of a few weeks, the focus changed from the newly-cemented PEPFAR vocabulary around ‘sustainability’ and ‘country ownership’ to language more targeted at maximizing resources for ‘epidemic control’.  As Dr. Birx said at the PEPFAR Annual meeting in Durban in June 2014, “We cannot sustain an uncontrolled epidemic”.  Although there has been enormous success in globally scaling up access to HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and anti-retroviral therapy (ART), the point Dr. Birx has continually reiterated in her six months in office, is that we need to find those places and populations in which the epidemic is least-controlled and respond accordingly.

A Life Dedicated to Public Health Service

Categories: HIV/AIDS, infectious disease

Ellen Wan, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

Ellen Wan, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

In January 2010, Diane Caves was on a 3-week assignment from CDC to improve HIV/AIDS programs in Haiti when the massive 7.0 earthquake struck, killing her and 230,000 others on the island. She was 31 years old and the only CDC employee to die in the tragedy. Diane’s reasons for going to Haiti were typical of her deep commitment to helping others. Her sharp intellect, optimism, adventurous spirit, and infectious smile touched all who met her. I count myself lucky to have been her colleague and friend, and her spirit continues to influence my approach to life and work.

 

Diane Caves and friend in Haiti before the earthquake. Ellen Wan (Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion) and Diane Caves were colleagues in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

Diane Caves and friend in Haiti before the earthquake. Ellen Wan (Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion) and Diane Caves were colleagues in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

Diane left an enduring legacy of public health service for CDC and the community at large. Shortly after her passing, CDC established an award in Diane’s honor to recognize early career CDC employees who inspire others in the public health community through collaboration, resourcefulness, and perseverance. Rice University, Diane’s alma mater, supports undergraduate scholarships in her memory, and Georgia State University’s School of Public Health, where Diane was completing her second master’s degree, established an award to recognize students who best exemplify her selflessness and dedication to public health.

Today, I know Diane would be right there working alongside the many CDC staff who risk their personal safety and well-being to create healthier and safer communities throughout the world, from the ongoing CDC Ebola response in West Africa to public health efforts closer to home. Through their own dedication to public health service, CDC staff honor Diane’s memory and continue her legacy every day.

Fulfilling the Decade of Vaccines Vision

Categories: Ebola, HIV/AIDS, immunization, infectious disease, malaria


Dr Rebecca MartinAs 2014 draws to a close, one theme that has been continuously present is the importance of a strong public health infrastructure in a country to effectively protect against vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs).  Universal access to immunization is the Decade of Vaccines vision, and in order to achieve this, more efforts are needed to build upon the existing infrastructure developed for immunization programmes and other health interventions, such as for HIV prevention and treatment and malaria control and elimination.  With the importation of Ebola virus disease into Nigeria, we saw the country use its Emergency Operations Centre built to support polio eradication to quickly respond to the outbreak supporting case investigation, contact tracing, and bringing government together with national and international partners to stop the outbreak.  The infrastructure built in Uganda to collect samples from individuals at the community level for HIV testing and get them to a laboratory for testing in minimal time, can be used to quickly identify cases of epidemic-prone VPDs.  We should continue to build upon and use the experiences to save more lives and achieve global goals that have been delayed.  The coming year, 2015, marks the halfway point of the Decade of Vaccines—let us use this moment to accelerate efforts by ensuring the public health infrastructure is there to reach every individual with lifesaving vaccines.

 

World AIDS Day 2014: Closer to an AIDS-Free Generation

Categories: HIV/AIDS

Shannon Hader, MD, MPH

Shannon Hader, MD, MPHDirector, CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS

On December 1, people throughout the world observe World AIDS Day to raise awareness of the global impact of HIV/AIDS, to honor those affected by it, and—ever so importantly—to recommit to achieving more in the upcoming year. An estimated 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. The theme for World AIDS Day 2014 – “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation” – reflects the drive to focus on interventions proven to work and to partner with a broad range of stakeholders to achievecontrol of the HIV epidemic and, ultimately, an AIDS-free generation.

CDC plays a key role in fighting the epidemic. We provide scientific and technical support to more than 60 countries through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease. Daily, our teams are working to support Ministries of Health, community organizations, and other stakeholders to strengthen their systems to detect, manage, and respond to the epidemic; to deliver quality HIV services; and to be ready to shift as the epidemic shifts so as to ensure continued progress.

Public Health Informatics in Action in Malawi: Making life easier for healthcare workers and patients while improving quality through an innovative national Electronic Medical Record System

Categories: child health, global health security, HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

Instituting an Electronic Medical Record System reduces the need to manage and store growing volumes of patient charts, a major challenge in resource-limited settings.

Instituting an Electronic Medical Record System reduces the need to manage and store growing volumes of patient charts, a major challenge in resource-limited settings.

Denise Giles, M.P.H., Health Scientist, CDC-Malawi

Denise Giles, M.P.H., Health Scientist, CDC-Malawi

Keeping track of even one patient undergoing treatment for HIV/AIDS can be complicated enough.

Doing it for over 472,865 patients when you’re a low income country coping with high demand and a sputtering economy magnifies the complexity.

Which is why Malawi’s story – and its solution – is attracting attention and praise. It’s a story of how Electronic Medical Record System (EMRS) technology is being used and the foresight needed to bring it to reality.

You don’t have to look far to see the positive results.

Preventing Maternal Deaths in Africa

Categories: HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

 Healthy mothers and babies

Maternal health has improved in most regions of the world, with far fewer women dying during pregnancy and childbirth than 20 years ago. 

Isabella Danel, MD, MS, CDC Division of Reproductive Health

Isabella Danel, MD, MS, CDC Division of Reproductive Health

Progress in sub-Saharan Africa, however, has been much slower. HIV and complications of childbirth are the leading causes of death among reproductive age women around the world, but above all in this region. Being pregnant in sub-Saharan Africa is often a dangerous medical condition. In Zambia, women who have given birth are often greeted with a Bemba expression of relief and surprise: “Mwapusukeni.” Translated it means, “You have survived!”

That greeting is becoming more commonplace these days, which is another way of illustrating a basic truth: positive change can happen quickly when the right actions are taken to improve maternal health.

Strengthening Global Health Security Protects Americans

Categories: flu, global health security, HIV/AIDS, infectious disease, malaria, parasitic diseases

 

This blog was originally posted on CNN.com on February 13, 2014.

 

The 5 Ways Diseases in Other Countries Can Kill You

The world is smaller and people are more mobile than at any time in history. This makes it easier than ever for what’s happening anywhere on the globe to harm Americans’ health. 
 
Here are five ways diseases in other countries pose a threat:

1) The flu could threaten millions. Even in a mild year for flu, in the United States alone, there are thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and billions of dollars in productivity losses.
 
In a pandemic, millions of people worldwide could be killed. H7N9 influenza, also known as bird flu, is spreading in China, though fortunately it has not mutated to become an infectious disease outbreak that could threaten the health of people around the world.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden

2) Antibiotic resistance is on the rise. Antibiotic resistance just might be the most urgent health threat facing us now.

The nightmare strain of bacteria known as CRE, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, arose abroad and was introduced to one state in the United States. Now it’s in at least 44 states. It can resist all or almost all antibiotics, kills many of the people who get it in their blood, and spreads its resistance capabilities to other bacteria.

The World Health Organization estimates multidrug-resistant tuberculosis already has infected a half a. million people across the globe.

CDC Collaborations with the Ministry of Health in Dominican Republic Result in Measurable Public Health Gains

Categories: health systems strengthening, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB)

CDC Global Health Director Tom Kenyon (right), CDC Global AIDS Director Deborah Birx (second from right), and CDC-Dominican Republic Director Oliver Morgan (second from left) meet with Dr. Miguel A. Gerardino (left), Director of the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, January 2014.

CDC Global Health Director Tom Kenyon (right), CDC Global AIDS Director Deborah Birx (second from right), and CDC-Dominican Republic Director Oliver Morgan (second from left) meet with Dr. Miguel A. Gerardino (left), Director of the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, January 2014.

For a relatively small country where CDC established a full-time country office only five years ago, the Dominican Republic is suddenly drawing attention.

Oliver Morgan, MSc PhD FFPH, CDC Country Director for Dominican Republic

Oliver Morgan, MSc PhD FFPH, CDC Country Director for Dominican Republic

It’s easy to see why. The Dominican Republic is a popular vacation destination with 1.4 million Americans visiting each year. The country has a unique relationship with its neighbor, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where CDC also supports many programs. 

Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Kenyon, Director of CDC’s Center for Global Health and Dr. Debbi Birx, who leads CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDs visited the Dominican Republic to review, with Dominican authorities, CDC programs to protect public health. Kenyon and Birx are the highest level CDC officials to visit the DR since CDC’s country office officially opened in 2009.

Reflections on the Fight Against HIV in Malawi

Categories: child health, HIV/AIDS, women's/maternal health

 

CDC Malawi Laboratory Advisor Dr. Abdoulaye Sarr reviews a CDC supported HIV program during a site monitoring visit

CDC Malawi Laboratory Advisor Dr. Abdoulaye Sarr reviews a CDC supported HIV program during a site monitoring visit.

This year, my staff and I have had the opportunity to spend considerable time in health facilities that our HIV-funded partners support throughout this beautiful country. Some of these facilities are on back-country roads; others are on forest-covered hills, while others sit on the shores of Lake Malawi. For CDC-Malawi, making these trips every quarter has been critical to strengthening our partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health, ensuring quality in our programming, keeping our technical discussions grounded and practical, and helping ensure each of us is aware of the challenging realities faced by health workers and patients on a daily basis.

Sundeep Gupta, MD, MPH, Director, CDC-Malawi

Sundeep Gupta, MD, MPH, Director, CDC-Malawi

It has also highlighted how, against enormous odds, Malawi has been a leader in achieving remarkable successes in the fight against HIV, despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 181 of 187 countries in GDP per capita. In Malawi, almost one in every four adult urban women are infected, child and maternal deaths remain elevated due to the epidemic, and almost every family in the country has a profound story to tell about how they have been personally affected by this disease.

I find it thrilling that in the next two months, Malawi is set to reach the milestone of 500,000 persons (one of every 30 Malawians) alive and on antiretroviral treatment, something that was simply inconceivable when the program started a decade ago.

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