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AIDS and Maternal & Child Health in Africa

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AIDS and Maternal & Child Health in Africa

HIV/AIDS: A major public health predicament in Africa

A large percentage of children in Africa acquire HIV-1 infection from their mothers (vertical transmission). As per the data published by UNAIDS : About 36.7 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS at end of 2016. Out of these approximately 2.1 million are children under the age of 15 years. In the year 2016 it is estimated that approximately 1.8 million people got infected with HIV which amounts to almost 5000 new cases per day. Most of the children infected with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by vertical transmission (pregnancy and childbirth) or breast feeding. It was estimated that only around 70% of the HIV infected individuals are aware of their retro-positive status. This leaves the 30% of the HIV positive population a major source of perpetuating the infection and a major public health challenge for the screening programs. Testing for HIV forms a major element of HIV prevention strategies and ultimately to the treatment and care of HIV patients.

According to UNAIDS by June 2017, worldwide 20.9 million HIV patients had access to antiretroviral therapy. It is estimated that in the year 2016 approximately 1 million people died due to AIDS related illness in 2016. According to a conservative estimate AIDS has so far  claimed approximately 35 million lives since the start of the epidemic with total detected case estimated to be around 70 million.
Majority of the HIV infected individuals live in developing countries with a low to middle income status according to the world bank country classification. Nations face a huge challenge in meeting the fifth Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality as HIV/AIDS is becoming a leading cause of death in HIV prone countries where individuals are formerly  disadvantaged by poverty, poor infrastructure and limited access to basic services. We tend to forget with all the foreseeable events the psychological impact on children due to personal illness, parental illness and death. Stigmatization, discrimination and social isolation is still faced in countries after knowing about HIV. Depression, anxiety and low self esteem were common behavioral changes observed in children regarding uncertainty of their parent’s health after contracting HIV. Orphaned children are vulnerable to not only social, economic and psychological discomforts but also prone to abuse.  The mother to child transmission can be reduced in several ways if correct measures and policies are in order. Prevention of mother to child transmission should be a universal policy followed at every sector and juncture so that it prevalence can gradually cease by highlighting the necessity for antiretroviral care and assessment of prophylactic programmes. Thus it’s crucial that necessary interventions be taken to reduce the dire consequences.

Nutritional Disparity in Africa

Apart from high prevalence of HIV maternal and child undernutrition is highly prevalent in low-income and middle-income countries, resulting in increase in mortality and overall disease burden. It has been reported in studies that nutrition-related factors, were together responsible for about 35% of child deaths and 11% of the total global disease burden. It is imperative that comprehensive care is provided to all individuals with basic amenities of food, shelter and medical care. It is only when basic requirements are fulfilled would an individual be capable to repay the society and be a factor in its growth and prosperity.

Courses offered:

Working Professionals are required the world over to bridge the gap between patient population and policy makers so that policy making is effective and reaches out to a larger population. Apart from being the mediators, public health professionals also have to see the continuum functionality of the policies implemented. Thus, imperative to form a  link for provision of care and support activities for public health and more specifically maternal and child health care. James Lind institute offers multiple courses aiming for bridging the skills need gap in the developing regions of the world to support public health initiatives. A few of them are

These self-paced courses are designed by public health experts and appropriately customized to meet the demands of the developing public health infrastructure and contribute towards global healthcare and public health initiatives.
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