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”

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Communicating Through Animation: Video Reviews

The two videos below, one from the WHO and the other from USAID, use cartoon animations to convey their messages. While I think the use of animation in global health videos is an interesting tactic, I wonder if it’s a more or less effective form of communication when compared to videos featuring real people. I understand the need to find alternative, non-traditional ways to communicate and share messages, but, personally, I don’t find it as compelling to watch the story of a cartoon character, even when it’s based on a true story. Since global health work is about the people impacted and lives saved, I think it’s nice to see both the challenges and results as they appear in reality.

The first video highlights some of the different ways the WHO improves our health on a daily basis. The second video celebrates World AIDS Day (today, December 1) and 10 years of PEPFAR with the story of Gift, a 10-year old girl whose family was impacted by HIV. Watch these two short videos and leave a comment to let us know how you feel about the use of animation.

WHO: Bringing Health to Life
World AIDS Day 2013: Gift’s Last 10 Years 

Global Health News, Week of September 26-30

SECTION NEWS
The Advocacy/Policy Committee would like to invite you to participate in our first Advocacy Day, led in partnership with the Global Health Council. The day, scheduled for Thursday, November 3rd, 2011, immediately following the annual meeting in Washington, D.C., will be an opportunity for us to voice support for a continued focus on international health to our elected officials. With the intense Congressional pressure to cut the budget, our voices can make a real difference. As a participant during this exciting day, you will be provided with training materials on effective advocacy techniques to ensure your message is clearly heard. Even if you do not have advocacy experience, you need not hesitate to sign up because you will be teamed with others. Please consider joining your fellow International Health Section members on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 on Capitol Hill to advocate for a healthy globe. Interested parties should register here. Please note that registration will close on October 14th. Any questions should be directed to Peter Freeman, Advocacy/Policy Committee Chair, at pffreeman@gmail.com or 773.318.4842.


The University of Washington has launched the first full year of its Global Health Minor program!

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • Tobacco companies knew that cigarettes contained a radioactive substance called polonium-210, but hid that knowledge from the public for over four decades, a new study of historical documents revealed.
  • Latin American leaders have agreed to accelerate their efforts to address maternal health at the 51st Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization.
  • Journalist Georgianne Nienaber looks at the impact of PEPFAR and how it may be impacted by budget battles in Congress.
  • Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released a report analyzing air pollution levels in nearly 1100 cities in 91 countries. The analysis was based on air particulate levels between 2003 and 2010.
  • When it came out a while ago that the CIA had used a fake vaccination scheme to try to find out where Osama bin Laden might be in Pakistan, many said it would undermine real health and humanitarian efforts. Here’s one group’s story.
  • Foreign aid has acquired a bad reputation in recent years, as something usually wasteful and useless. Yet all this sound and fury has overshadowed the evidence that aid often can work.
  • A report by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health finds that over 100 countries have increased financing for maternal and child health initiatives.
  • The humanitarian impact of the world economic crisis became clearer this week, as the UN warned of huge job losses, a rise in the number of people afflicted by chronic undernourishment, and the “extraordinary price” being paid by children as “austerity programs” constrict the developing world.
  • There is enough water in the world’s rivers to meet the demands of the expanding global population, but the rivers have to be better managed, according to a series of studies released today at the 14th World Water Congress in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil.
  • UNICEF has called on the IMF and World Bank to ensure that children are not negatively impacted by austerity measures carried out by various countries.

PROGRAMS

  • The New York Times shows how male circumcision is one of the most effective and simple solutions in HIV reduction, but has so far been hard to implement.  Meanwhile, a group of economists, including Bjorn Lomborg, are casting doubt on the cost-effectiveness of voluntary male circumcision campaigns as an HIV prevention measure.
  • The New York Times features an article about the simple innovation of using vinegar to detect if a woman has cervical cancer by applying it with a brush to the cervix.
  • The Global Fund, the world’s largest funder of global health, is set to radically shake up the way it disburses and manages donor money, in a move to boost efficiency that could reallocate a third of its financing in order to save more lives.
  • On Tuesday, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization announced that it will be expanding its target vaccine areas to directly address diarrhea and pneumonia.
  • UNFPA has announced that it is now collaborating with UNICEF to combat Female Genital Mutilation.

RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • Roads may accelerate spread of antibiotic resistance: Samples from villages by major roads in Ecuador compared to more rural villages shows antibiotic resistant E. coli is spreading along roads.
  • The recent heavy flooding caused by the monsoon in Pakistan, most devastating in Sindh, has affected the lives of over five million people. The Health and Nutrition Cluster is appealing for US$45.9 million. WHO requires US$14.8 for response for Health, Nutrition and Water and Sanitation intervention.
  • New enterovirus causes respiratory disease: Promed reports on 6 clusters of respiratory illness associated with human enterovirus 68 in Asia, Europe, and the United States during 2008–2010.
  • More than 20 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean lacks basic sanitation and 15 percent has no access to drinking water because of poor management, said experts at a meeting that ended Thursday in Brazil.
  • The likelihood of water-borne disease outbreaks is high in areas in Philippines recently devastated by Typhoon Nesat.
  • Aid groups are criticizing the U.S.government delay on deciding whether to resume large-scale food donations to North Korea. The charities warn that many vulnerable people in the impoverished communist state could die from starvation.
  • In a new report on rabies, the WHO finds that 45% of cases in the world take place in Southeast Asia.
  • A decade-long study of 135,000 men found that those who did not have children had a higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who did, raising new questions over the links between fertility and overall health,U.S. researchers said on Monday.
  • More money is needed to save lives in famine-ravaged East Africa, with the UN saying it’s something like $700 million through year’s end. The World Bank announced from Washington it would boost its aid to area countries to nearly $1.9 billion.  As if famine weren’t enough, Nick Kristoff tells us that as Somalis stream across the border into Kenya, at a rate of about 1,000 a day, they are frequently prey to armed bandits who rob men and rape women in the 50-mile stretch before they reach Dadaab, now the world’s largest refugee camp.
  • An explosion of new technologies and treatments for cancer coupled with a rapid rise in cases of the disease worldwide mean cancer care is rapidly becoming unaffordable in many developed countries, oncology experts said on Monday.

TOTALLY UNRELATED TO ANYTHING – Twitter knows what you’re feeling!

Obama’s Global Health Initiative: How does the world view America’s good intentions?

Ever since it was announced in May of last year, President Obama’s Global Health Initiative has been the buzz of the international development community.  In a press release, the president announced that he would ask Congress to allocate $8.6 billion for the 2010 fiscal year, and $63 billion over six years, for a new, comprehensive global health strategy.  $51 billion of these funds would be targeted toward AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, with the remaining $12 billion to address other issues such as neglected tropical diseases and family planning.  The strategy is intended to go beyond targeting specific conditions and to focus on strengthening health systems and improving maternal and child health, though 70% of the funding will continue to go to PEPFAR.

This new strategy has been enthusiastically received by international health and development voices.  The initiative has been praised for its emphasis on maternal and child health  and for its recognition that “our greatest plagues — HIV/AIDS, maternal and infant mortality, and poor sexual and reproductive health — are all interconnected, and they are all preventable.”1  Secretary of State Clinton has said that the initiative will become a crucial component of America’s foreign policy.2  It has not, however, been well received by everyone: PEPFAR advocates in particular have pointed out that the president has not lived up to his campaign promises to allocate funds for the program, choosing to provide his pledged $50 billion over six years, rather than five.3  An article published in the journal AIDS last week argues that PEPFAR and support for HIV/AIDS care supports the health sector in general and that cutting support for AIDS damages health systems.4  The authors maintain that funding maternal and child health initiatives at the expense of PEPFAR puts these two health priorities in competition with one another, which “lacks not only ethical legitimacy but also scientific merit.” 

Inevitably, any global health policy (and policy in general) will invite comments from supporters and detractors.  However, a blog entry by Bruce Nussbaum on humanitarian design caught the eye of several people in the international development community.  In several design conferences, he noted that professionals from developing nations often resented the fact that Westerners were trying to come in and solve their problems for them, particularly when they had their own ideas that they felt were more culturally appropriate.  Nussbaum, surprised, began to wonder if humanitarian design was being viewed as a new form of imperialism.  The stalled reconstruction in Haiti is another example of misdirected foreign intervention: ActionAid, a UK-based humanitarian NGO, argued last week that Haitians aren’t being included in reconstruction efforts, and that the current plan is more reflective of donor country interests. These observations raise the broader question of how the global health efforts of the U.S. are viewed by the world, and whether they are as altruistic as they present themselves to be, particularly when funds are pulled or frozen because domestic interests take precedence.  How the U.S. global aid policy is perceived is just as important as it its effectiveness.