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Archive for April 22nd, 2013

Technology revolutionizes TB management

Posted by African Press International on April 22, 2013

NAIROBI,  – The use of technology is revolutionizing the way Kenya manages tuberculosis (TB). Through a computer- and mobile-phone based programme called TIBU, h ealth facilities are able to request TB drugs in real-time and manage TB patient data more effectively, health officials say. They also use the platform to carry out health education.

“One of the challenges we have had with TB treatment is people defaulting [on treatment], but this will reduce significantly because through TIBU we will be able to track down patient treatment progress,” Joseph Sitienei, head of the Division of Leprosy, TB and Lung Disease at Kenya’s National AIDS Control Programme, told IRIN.

“By being able to track a patient, the health workers can send them reminders on their mobile phones when they fail to appear for drug refills,” Sitienei added.

Information sharing

In Kenya, a dearth of information on TB among patients and poor management of patient data have always been a challenge.

“People at times default not because they want to but because they lack information, and health facilities do not share patient data and history. Now the government is beginning to appreciate the relevance of technology in managing diseases such as TB,” said Vincent Munada, a clinical officer at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.

Sitienei noted that TIBU – which is Swahili for “treat” – has also helped health facilities better manage drug supplies.

“Initially, health facilities used to request for TB drugs manually, but with this new system, they can ask for the same and the request is relayed to the ministry headquarters immediately. That way, drugs are supplied on time,” he said.

Kenya is ranked at 15 on the UN World Health Organization (WHO) list of 22 countries with the highest TB burden in the world, and it has the fifth-highest TB burden in Africa.

The government says an estimated 250 district hospitals, out of the country’s 290, are using the programme, which was launched in November 2012.

The government is also using the technology to support multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients living far from medical facilities, sending money to patients via the Mpesa mobile phone money-transfer system to cover transport costs.

Enormous potential

Mobile phone platforms like TIBU could have even wider life-saving potential.

A recent report by multinational firm PricewaterhouseCoopers noted that mobile phone applications such as short text messages could, over the next five years, help African countries save over one million of the estimated three million lives lost annually across the continent to HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and pregnancy-related conditions.

“SMS reminders to check for stock levels at the health centres have shown promising results in reducing stock-outs of key combination therapy medications for malaria, TB and HIV. For HIV patients, simple weekly text reminders have consistently shown higher adherence amongst the patients,” said the report.

According to the report, Kenya alone could save some 61,200 lives over the next five years by embracing mobile-based health information management.

On TB, PricewaterhouseCoopers said: “TB is a largely curable disease, but requires six months of diligent adherence to the medication regime. mHealth [mobile health] could help control TB mortalities by ensuring treatment compliance through simple SMS reminders.”

The report noted that mobile phone-based care for patients could reduce emergency visits to health facilities by up to “10 percent.”

“You know, at certain times, a patient doesn’t even need to come to a facility. You simply share what you have with them over the phone. It saves patients time and relieves the health worker to attend to other pressing issues,” Kenyatta National Hospital’s Munada said.

A 2012 study in Kenya found that the use of mobile phones between patients and health workers improved antiretroviral therapy adherence among people living with HIV.

In one mobile health project, community health workers were able to track their patients’ conditions through the use of text messages.

ko/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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70 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Posted by African Press International on April 22, 2013

“It is with deep respect that we remember today the victims from the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw. They showed tremendous courage in the uprising, and for that they paid the highest price,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Today, Poland is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, together with the rest of Europe. A new museum relating the thousand-year-long history of Poland’s Jews is being opened in Warsaw to mark the occasion. Norway has provided NOK 22 million in funding to the museum through the EEA and Norway Grants.

“The last, desperate attempt to save those remaining in the ghetto will always be a symbol of the ability of people under threat to offer resistance even in the face of a seemingly invincible war machine, such as that of the Nazis. The picture of the Jewish boy with his hands in the air being led out of the ghetto with a group of terrified women is one of the best-known images from the Second World War,” said Mr Eide.

Before the Second World War, Poland was home to the largest population of Jews in the world. There were 3.5 million Jews in Poland before the War. Now they number only a few thousand.

Interest in Poland’s thousand-year-old Jewish heritage has recently gained renewed interest in the country. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which will be opened on the anniversary day, will present the history of Polish Jews – a story of cooperation and tolerance, but one that also contains some very dark chapters. It is a story that is little known in Poland or in the rest of Europe.

The funding from Norway will, among other things, support the museum’s information and awareness-raising activities targeted at young people in and outside Poland. Norwegian centres of expertise on Jewish heritage and anti-Semitism will take part in this project.

“Poland has a unique Jewish heritage that is important not only for Poland but also for the Europe as a whole. I am pleased that Norway is helping to make this history better known through the EEA and Norway Grants,” said Mr Eide.

The museum has been built on the site of the former ghetto, where the uprising started 70 years ago. It is situated next to the monument to the victims of the uprising, in front of which German Chancellor Willy Brandt knelt down on his visit to Warsaw in 1970. The museum will be one of the most important museums of Jewish history and heritage in the world.

Poland is beginning to experience a revitalisation of Jewish culture with more popular festivals, new education programmes and more active synagogues in local communities.

Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway has also supported other projects aimed at promoting Jewish heritage, religious tolerance, and the fight against anti-Semitism, as well as the restoration of several synagogues in Poland.

 

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Major price cut for five-in-one vaccine

Posted by African Press International on April 22, 2013

NAIROBI, 1- The cost of vaccinating children with the pentavalent vaccine – a five-in-one formulation – is set to drop significantly following a deal between the GAVI Alliance and an Indian drug manufacturer that is reducing its price by 30 percent.

GAVI will now be able to purchase the pentavalent vaccine – which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, heptatitis B and Haemophilius influenzae type b – from Indian firm Biological E for US$1.19 per dose, down from its current price of $2.17 (and down from $3.56 per dose a decade ago). Millions of children in 73 GAVI-eligible countries are set to benefit from the price drop, which will free up an estimated $150 million for GAVI over the next four years.

“Working to secure price reductions means we are able to make our funding go further, reaching more children and protecting more lives,” a GAVI Alliance spokesman told IRIN.

Experts say reductions in the price of vaccines – and the price of transporting and storing them, which often requires expensive refrigeration – will be crucial to lowering child mortality and meeting the UN Millennium Development Goal on child survival.

kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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