News / Africa

PEPFAR Goes Beyond HIV

AIDS2012AIDS2012
x
AIDS2012
AIDS2012

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua
U.S. efforts to help those infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa have saved millions of lives. But they’ve had another benefit as well – better care for pregnant women who are not HIV positive.



There’s been a great deal of concern and debate over the years about whether spending a lot of money to fight HIV/AIDS would divert attention from other health problems. So much so, that the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and the Centers for Disease Control wanted a definite answer. They asked Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health to find out.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Margaret Kruk, an assistant professor of Public Health and Management, said they collected data from 257 health facilities in eight African countries.

“We don’t have a negative story here that HIV programs have elbowed out HIV-negative women from delivering or for coming for ante-natal care. We don’t have that, which I think is one big take away,” she said.

In fact, it may be just the opposite. PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has not only expanded treatment programs, but has also led to more modern health facilities.

Kruk said, “For example, having a larger HIV program, instead of dissuading women or women being worried about stigma or other things, actually those larger programs tended to have more deliveries by HIV-negative women over time. Our hypothesis here is that women, no matter how poor or whether they’re literate or illiterate, are very concerned about quality of care when it comes to delivery. And many times just the fact that they deliver with a midwife or traditional midwife doesn’t mean they don’t care about quality of care, but often it’s all they can afford. Or perhaps they can’t get to a good enough facility.”

And without quality health care, pregnancy complications can kill. Kruk said 10 to 15 percent of women in sub-Saharan Africa face such complications as obstructed labor and other life-threatening problems.

“High blood pressure, which can come up out of the blue. You could have been healthy your whole pregnancy and then develop that in labor, which can cause seizures. It can kill the mother and the baby. Another very, very common issue in sub-Saharan Africa is post-partum hemorrhage, where after the delivery the woman continues to bleed and can in fact bleed out her whole blood supply. That’s the main killer actually of mothers in sub-Saharan Africa,” she said.

Women may already be anemic before delivery as of result of malaria. So, when they see or hear about a health care facility with modern drugs and equipment they want to take advantage of that.

She said, “Women in rural Africa are not so different from women in New York City and women in Minnesota and women in Florida. You know, all of these women want to survive their delivery. They want the best possible care. It’s just that the big difference is women in Africa don’t have access to the quality of care that they want. And many times when they don’t see that access they would rather stay at home.”

Half of the world’s maternal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Lowering maternal and newborn mortality rates may be one of the benefits of PEPFAR.

Dr. Kruk said the findings indicate PEPFAR is a success story, adding there’s a major lesson to be learned when providing health care.

“It comes back to quality, quality, quality.”

Kruk added that policymakers face the challenge of “how best to implement HIV services while supporting other essential healthcare.”

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid