Improving LGBT Health Education in South Africa: Addressing the Gap

I first became interested in the topic of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) health care and health education while working as a country lead for the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). During my time there I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa and understand their community and health care system a bit better, with an emphasis on their HIV/AIDS epidemic. This post focuses on the LGBT history in South Africa, recent developments, addressing that there is a gap between homophobia and non-judgmental care, and the importance of health care workers understanding LGBT health education.

More and more countries around the world are opening their arms to welcome and embrace LGBT pride. South Africa has one of the world’s more progressive constitutions which legally protects LGBT people from discrimination, although current research indicates that they continue to face discrimination and homophobia in many different facets of life. The most recent milestone occurred in 2006 when the country passed a law to recognize same-sex marriages. Nevertheless, LGBT South Africans particularly those outside of the major cities, continue to face some challenges including conservative attitudes, violence, and high rates of disease. As the country continues to grow there seems to be an increase in LGBT representation (with approximately 4,900,000 people identifying as LGBT) whether it is through activism, tourism, the media and society or support from religious groups. So, what about LGBT health education? Continue reading “Improving LGBT Health Education in South Africa: Addressing the Gap”

Faster Internet = Better Healthcare: Video Review

There are tons of examples of how technology is transforming global health, including this recent video from The World Bank.

The Pacific region contains many countries with populations spread across large distances and the Kingdom of Tonga is one of them. Containing 170 islands, Tonga has unique development challenges. According to the video, there are only about 55 doctors in Tonga serving a population of 100,000. Medical assistants and nurse practitioners serve the areas outside the main islands, thus access to doctors is limited. Also, Internet in Tonga is very expensive and provides limited bandwidth.

To address these two issues, The World Bank, along with its partners, constructed an 827 kilometer underwater fiber optic cable that connects Tonga to the Southern Cross Cable Network via Fiji and helps improve Internet services. So what impact does this have on healthcare? Increased bandwidth allows hospitals and health professionals to get what they need, improves information collection, leads to better diagnoses, and allows them to liaise with partners overseas to ensure best treatment for patients.

We all recognize that technology has a strong impact on many aspects of our lives (for better or worse). The benefits associated with the intersection of technology and healthcare is very interesting and becomes even more interesting when you examine the effects it has in rural versus urban areas. This video clearly highlights work done in rural areas where access is a huge problem. Watching it reminded me of an article I read in the New York Times last year about a failed MNCH project. The project failed because researchers took a model that was successful in rural areas and tried to replicate it in an urban setting.

That said, when it comes to global health, some people believe there are greater gains to be had in rural areas where successes are “easier” to achieve and measure. What is your opinion?

U.S. Health Care vs. The World: Another Infographic Showing the Monstrosity that is American Healthcare Costs

At this point, I think we can all agree that the American healthcare system has been discussed, dissected, criticized, and compared to just about every other healthcare system on the planet, almost ad nauseum. However, with the first major set of changes from the ACA set to take effect at the beginning of next year (just three and a half months from now), it’s never a bad idea to revisit these issues to reminded of our healthcare inferiority and thus be inspired to make our system better. Or something.

The following infographic has been created and circulated by George Washington University’s online MPH program. It was created with data from the WHO’s World Health Statistics 2013 report and compares American economic, health, and healthcare statistics with a handful of other countries. It’s a large image with a lot of information and can take a bit of time to digest. We have seen several of the metrics before (like here and here), and I am not quite sure why certain countries were selected (seeing Mongolia and Ghana in the array left me scratching my head a bit) – personally, I feel like it is more useful to compare America to countries with a similar population or economic size, or level or development. Nonetheless, it provides additional perspective.


Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • A partnership between the Government of Benin and the U.S. government was launched to help Benin achieve its objective of eliminating neglected tropical diseases by 2020.
  • U.S. Supreme Court weighs dispute over AIDS funding.
  • HHS announces new digital and mobile health application to help people to stay healthy.


  • Nigeria may soon relax the criteria for placing people living with HIV on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in order to increase number of people being treated.
  • Imbuto project has announced its plans to set up a model facility in Bugesera district, Eastern project. It will integrate elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS services through its family package project.
  • The Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Gambia have signed an agreement on maternal health improvement program.
  • The Word Bank has approved a $7 million line of credit to improve the delivery of healthcare services in Djibouti.
  • Smile Train and Operation Smile in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Rwanda have announced the launch of Rwanda Smiles to create the first-ever country in Africa.
  • A national strategic plan for HIV, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections has been adopted during South African National AIDS Council meeting in Secunda, Mpumalanga.
  • A two year maternal health project aimed at promoting community involvement in the assessment of the performance of selected health facilities and providers in the delivery of maternal health services was launched in Koforidua.
  • The UN refugee agency has appealed for millions of dollars to help to meet the needs of Malian refugees including healthcare, water and sanitation.
  • Canada funds IOM humanitarian projects involving emergency health, water and sanitation projects in Zimbabwe.
  • A partnership between Samaritan’s Purse Canada, University of Calgary, Canadian International Development Agency is running a healthcare project that is helping people of South Sudan.
  • To save upto 2 million children every year from deaths caused by pneumonia and diarrhea, the World Health Organization and UNICEF has launched a new Global Action Plan.
  • Cuba’s second round of anti-polio vaccination campaign starts on Friday through April 25 to keep this island free of this debilitating disease.


  • According to the reports from the municipal public health supervisor over 20 HIV/AIDS positive cases have been reported during the first quarter of this year.
  • According to the reports Kogli (Nigeria) has cases of HIV/AIDS rising since last 2 years. This rise has been attributed to lack of availability of funds for the state action committee on HIV/AIDS.
  • Global fund has increased funding (additional $25 million to 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory) for HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.
  • According to the Kwara State Ministry of Health Coordinator (Nigeria) for HIV/AIDS about 1.8 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS related death in Nigeria.
  • A study states that breast feeding for more than four months lowers mother-to-infant HIV risk through their milk.
  • According to a qualitative research marriages in Malawi are a risk factor for HIV infection in females.
  • Results of a study involving people of Uganda states that food access and diet quality are associated with health-related quality of life.
  • Scientists from the University of Kansas made a discovery that aspirin directly and indirectly suppressed the proliferation of two different breast cancer strains.
  • Statistics from Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that China now has nearly 120,000 new cases of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis.
  • According to the scientists DPP-4 inhibitors have cardio-protective effects on type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • A study finds a relation between endometrial cancer at young age and risk for endometrial cancer.
  • A study reports that highly active retroviral therapy (HAART) may help to protect hearts of young patients.
  • Scientists from Indiana School of Medicine links beer with increased levels of dopamine in the brain.
  • The new U-M National Poll on Children’s health about 40% parents give young children cough/cold medicine that they shouldn’t.
  • According to a research letter published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, some visible signs of Lyme disease are easily missed or mistaken.
  • A study indicates that high salt diet and ulcer bacteria together combine to increase the risk of cancer.
  • According to a study lung cancer mortality rates linked to primary care provider density.

Diseases and Disasters:

  • Plaque draws scientist’s attention as potential terrorism weapon.
  • Death count due to bird flu reaches 20 in China.
  • An earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck China on Saturday. It is discouraging volunteers in the earthquake zone.
  • Vietnam has announced that special measures have been adopted to prevent the H7N9 avian flu from entering the city.
  • The Department of Health of Minnesota has alerted the doctors to a new strain of influenza  for the patients who have travelled to Asian nation and have flu-like symptoms.
  • According to the scientists, new strain of bird flu virus that has killed 17 people in China has acquired a significant genetic diversity.
  • Honduras reports two deaths from hemorrhagic dengue fever. In addition about 3,000 cases of classic dengue cases have been registered this year.
  • Reports have indicated a presence of a bird flu virus in Norfolk, UK.

IH News Global Health Weekly News Round-Up

Politics and Policies:

  • A new healthcare-for-all program in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta is under scrutiny. National officials are monitoring the city’s response and experience ahead of the rollout of a government scheme to provide universal healthcare by 2019.
  • The ministry of Health and Population of Nepal has decided to upgrade all sub-health posts to health posts by 2015.
  • The Pediatric Society of New Zealand has called for funding for infant vaccinations against the disease as an urgent priority.
  • Bill in North Dakota bans abortion after heartbeat is found.


  • Solar-powered mobile health center equipped with remarkable range of facilities (- eye clinic, blood clinic and dental surgery) unveiled in Cape Town, South Africa.  Besides proving screening for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure it will also emphasize on health education.
  • The United States will provide Burundi an additional $3.5 million in aid towards its fight against HIV/AIDS and mother-to-child transmission of disease.
  • The Association of Heath Journalists with a support from the UNAIDS will be trained on tuberculosis, HIV and co-infection.
  • Japan gives N443 million for childhood disease to Nigeria. This grant will partly support facilitation and monitoring of health sector performance in Nigeria.
  • Somaliland to vaccinate 600,000 young children against polio.
  • Scotia bank has announced pledge of $1 million to support the Carribbean –SickKids Paediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Project. These funds will be used to support the projects telemedicine programs in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas.
  • United Healthcare Awards $5.2 million in grants to California nonprofits-$2.2 million to three Los Angeles-area health organizations.


  • A team of scientists from the United States have claimed to have treated a child of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.
  • Mozambique is on its way to utilize tests for tuberculosis by the GeneXpert machine which would speed up its diagnosis from two to three months to two hours.
  • A three day campaign launched by the Chaadian government with support of the United Nations agencies to eradicate polio, boost vitamin A and de-warm four million children under the age of five years.
  • According to a study providing life-long antiretroviral treatment to HIV-infected pregnant women not only prevents HIV infections in infants, but also improves the 10 years survival rate in mothers.
  • Mozambique’s first HIV vaccine trial heralds new era in local research.
  • Rwanda Ministry of Health deploys technology to report potential disease outbreaks and help health workers contain the spread of disease.
  • Government of Rwanda is introducing its first combined Rubella-Measles vaccine. A nationwide campaign against these two diseases has been launched in the country.
  • The scientists from University of Toronto and SickKids Research Institute have mapped genome that causes Dutch elm disease.
  • Studies uncover risks and threats to Arctic inhabitant’s health that might be due to contaminants brought by warmer air and sea water currents resulting from climate change.

Diseases and Disasters:

  • Nearly fifteen people have died in Libya after consumption of home-made alcohol and more than 300 people are suffering from alcohol poisoning.
  • Since November 2012 about 389 people have been infected and nearly 10 people are killed because of cholera outbreak in Congo’s second largest city, Pointe-Noire.
  • Measles kills 17 in Niger state.
  • The report of United Nations has raised air safety concerns in India.
  • According to the officials,  hospitals in South Sudan.
  • According to a data posted on the health ministry website in China, from 1971 to 2010, a total of 328.9million abortions were carried out in the country.
  • Cluster of Vancomycin resistant enterococci cases has been reported in United Christian Hospital in Hong Kong.
  • According to a report by WHO, road safety is worst in India.
  • Undocumented children in Indonesia have no access to education and basic healthcare.
  • The swine flu virus isolated from the throat swab samples of six H1N1-infected patients at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) has shown small genetic mutation.
  • According to the reports of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health (MOH)’s Preventive Health Department, hand-foot-mouth (HFM) disease has affected over 10,000 Vietnamese people.
  • Health officials investigate norovirus outbreak at Andina in Porland.
  • Mexico fireworks blast death toll rises to 14.