I'm participating in the Baltimore Running Festival this year to raise money for Miles for Mothers! While all of the projects we focus on are important, Miles for Mothers is near and dear to my heart because it is 100% employee driven vs. our traditional outside donor sources. Our teams in the field submit a case, a project in their community that is in need of help but is outside of the scope of our current focus and funding, and our employees vote on the recipient of the funds annually and lead the fundraising effort.
This year, our efforts focus on South Sudan, the newest country in the world!!! After many years of civil war, it’s also home to the world’s third largest refugee crisis. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and are living in makeshift camps. Currently, through donor funded projects, Jhpiego provides services to two of the largest refugee sight, the Protection of Civilians Sites (POC) in Juba, to respond to the HIV epidemic. Our staff there have identified some unaddressed needs of the POC that are outside the scope of our current projects and I am fundraising to help address those needs.
Testing at the point of sample collection!
Much of our focus has been on preventing mother to child transmission through the use of antiretroviral therapy. It is imperative that newborn’s viral load can be tested to determine if the baby is HIV+. If so, the child will be put on ART’s as well. However, it’s a logistical nightmare . . .to get the test out of the camp . . . and off to the lab, which many times means over the border into Kenya. This takes more than 44 days! A diagnostic machine in the camp would allow us to test a newborn and either relieve a mother’s worries or get the on treatment immediately.
Stigma = non-compliance!
In the camps there is a stigma attached to being HIV+. People often avoid meetings in their home by a community health worker OR a trip to clinic for fear of being ostracized by their community. Thereby, depriving themselves of lifesaving treatment and reducing if not eventually eliminating their ability to transmit the virus to their sexual partners and future children.
If community health workers had a means to travel to other parts of the camp to meet with these patients, we’d see a higher rate of compliance with regular ART use. A solution as simple as a bicycle and a backpack can allow a health worker to travel outside of their immediate area.
Currently, our HIV clinic is located inside of a primary health facility. There is no privacy or private waiting area for patient’s to be seen. A simple solution – refurbishment of the room and adding a level of privacy to the room and waiting area will go a long way.
These are all simple solutions that we can implement to help the people living in the POC.
Will you join me in supporting this effort? Every little bit helps!