My name is Tiglu. I was born and raised in Bahir Dar. When I first learned that I am living with the [HIV] virus, my mind went blank. I was depressed. After that, I started taking antiretroviral treatment. Then they found TB in me...
Meet Tiglu, a living example of how partnering for stronger health systems saves lives. In Ethiopia, about 790,000 people are living with HIV. Tiglu, a patient at the Bahir Dar Health Center in the Amhara Region of north-western Ethiopia, discovered he is HIV positive three years ago, and started on antiretroviral treatment (ART). He learned later he also has tuberculosis (TB).
“If it wasn't for the trainings given by MSH, patients like Tiglu wouldn't have received proper TB treatment,” said Sister Tiringo Zeleke, a nurse at Bahir Dar Health Center.
Stigmatized, isolated, and conditioned to undertake hard labor, 14 year-old Chinaecherem Nwodo shows that one can overcome the most dire circumstances. Chinaecherem was despised and accused of witchcraft in her community, the Onu-Orie-Obuno-Akpugo village in Nkano West Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria. Her abusive treatment by community members reflected the challenges facing some children in rural areas of Nigeria.
The community blamed her for her mother’s death and father’s insanity. She was barely two years old when her mother died, and she was abandoned to the care of her sixty-three year-old maternal grandmother. As a teenager, she was traumatized and suffered intense malnourishment. To this day she looks like a 6 year-old girl, though her health has improved.
Malawi leads the developing world as the first to propose an approach to prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV that addresses the health of the mother. Recently my MSH colleague Erik Schouten and his colleagues in Malawi wrote a commentary in the Lancet about Malawi’s innovative, public health approach to PMTCT. Malawi calls its model “B+” because it complements the World Health Organization’s (WHO) B option, whereby a mother’s CD4 cell count, a measure of the volume of HIV circulating in her blood, determines her eligibility for lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART).