October 2020

Family planning client Meva and her son at their home in Mananjary, Madagascar

In 2018, Madagascar enacted a new family planning law allowing youth to seek family planning services without parental consent. However, young couples still face major obstacles accessing these vital services due to a lack of availability, persistent cultural and religious beliefs, and minimal information about available options.

Training and empowering midwives to provide contraceptive services, particularly to Malagasy youth, is a key to overcoming these challenges. Here’s how the many midwives, supported by the USAID-funded ACCESS program, are playing this critical role.

{As an HIV-positive woman with an HIV-negative husband and three HIV-negative sons, Margaret’s a role model for how women with HIV can thrive with access to essential services and information.  Photo by Patrick Meinhardt for IntraHealth International.}As an HIV-positive woman with an HIV-negative husband and three HIV-negative sons, Margaret’s a role model for how women with HIV can thrive with access to essential services and information. Photo by Patrick Meinhardt for IntraHealth International.

Health workers not only need water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services to prevent the spread of COVID-19 right now but also to provide safe essential health services every day. But 25% of health facilities around the world lack basic water services. One in six facilities doesn’t have hand hygiene services, such as soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, available at points of care. And health workers in facilities in sub-Saharan Africa face even greater WASH challenges.

Two frontline health workers—Margaret Odera and Dr. Ann Phoya—recently called for improved WASH services during an event alongside the 75th United Nations General Assembly. Read on to find out what it’s like to be a health worker on the frontlines without WASH and the steps they are taking to access and improve WASH in Kenya and Malawi.

A patient is reviewed by a medical officer at Mukuyuni Sub-County Hospital, Kenya. Photo credit: Urbanus Musyoki

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to think of anything else. And yet, the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) — such as diabetes and hypertension — remains and continues to grow across low- and middle-income countries. Each year, NCDs kill 41 million people, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally.

In Kenya, over half a million adults were living with diabetes in 2019, and 40% of them were unaware of their condition. Nearly half of hospital admissions and an estimated 55% of deaths in Kenya are associated with an NCD.

Recently, a World Health Organization survey, completed by 155 countries in May 2020, confirmed serious disruptions in prevention and treatment services for NCDs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that low-income countries are most affected. These trends raise great concern, as people living with an NCD are heavily represented among serious cases of the virus. 

A mother and child wait to receive services at Yombo Dispensary in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Photo credit: Megan Montgomery/MSH

Tanzania is unusually ambitious relative to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe in having a national government-led digital health strategy, which it launched in 2013. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded Technical Support Services Project (TSSP), led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), is supporting Tanzania in overhauling its digital health infrastructure, including introducing electronic medical records, hospital facility management software, and a patient ID system. The end goal is to dramatically improve planning and case management for the country’s health services.

We asked TSSP Project Director Dr. Kenneth Lema and Deputy Director Paul Bwathondi for an update on how the country is progressing toward its ambitious digital health overhaul.

 

How has Tanzania’s ehealth movement been going?

photo credit: Warren Zelman

Globally, more than 230,000 children died of TB in 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children under the age of 14 accounted for 12% of the people who developed TB in that year. In any given year, millions of children are infected with TB, which affects especially the most vulnerable, such as those who are malnourished. This tragedy is made worse because TB tends to be difficult to diagnose in children, and they are more likely to develop serious forms of TB. Many cases of childhood TB are missed, and access to services has been further compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.