TASO sets another milestone: Launches a House of Hope for persons affected by HIV and AIDS in Uganda.  

house of hope

As 2011 draws to an end, The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) is elated to record yet another milestone in restoring hope to people affected by HIV and AIDs pandemic in Uganda.  The organization, with support from her development partners and friends, has completed the construction of a multi-million complex, named House of Hope.

The attractive building, located at Plot 10 Windsor Loop, Kampala, was officially opened on 16th of September 2011 in a grand ceremony presided by Hon. Princess Kabakumba Masiko, Minister of Presidency, who represented H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda.  

The colorful event was attended by over 400 guests including members of the diplomatic community, representatives of development partners, Ministry of Health, Uganda AIDS Commission, leaders of various local and international AIDs Support Organisations and other civil society organizations, TASO governance bodies, TASO founder members, management and staff and above all, the gallant clients living with HIV.

In her remarks to launch the House of Hope, Hon. Masiko appreciated TASO for the innovativeness in the fight against the AIDS pandemic and for standing tall in the country and the world over in providing hope to people living with HIV. She pledged continued support to TASO and other stakeholders from the Government of Uganda.

The vision of the House of Hope was conceived as one of those strategies of sustaining provision and quality of HIV prevention, care support and treatment services to the TASO clients. Faced with the challenge of a growing number of clients seeking services especially following the initiation of ART programme, the available physical space and related resources at the Mulago Service Centre, which also housed the TASO Headquarters, were increasingly becoming inadequate. Therefore a need to decongest the facility at Mulago became more apparent and had to be addressed.

The management of TASO, with the approval of the Board of Trustees (BOT) then decided to construct a building to house the TASO Headquarters with additional space for generating resources for continued innovations and work in the provision of services to the clients and HIV prevention interventions.

The construction of the building commenced in November 2005 with the laying of the foundation stone in a ceremony officiated by Dr. Sam Okware, a prominent HIV activists and then a Director at the Ministry of Health.

The initial funding for the House of Hope project was provided by the World of Hope Foundation, USA. This funding followed a visit to TASO by a US Senator Bill Frist in 2005. During that visit, Senator Frist, a medical doctor, was taken around and briefed about TASOs work by the then TASO Executive Director(ED), Dr. Alex Coutinho and Dr. Matovu, then BOT Chairperson and Member of Parliament. Senator Frist was deeply touched by the great work TASO was doing in preventing HIV infection, restoring hope and improving the quality of life of individuals, families and communities affected by HIV infection and disease.

On going back to the US, Senator Bill Frist, M.D. nominated TASO to The World of Hope Foundation to be considered as one of the recipients of funds left over from former US President Bush’s election campaign. His nomination of TASO was accepted and gratefully, a generous contribution of US $500,000 was given to TASO, out of which about US $ 350,000 went into the House of Hope project.

The House of Hope project is one of the biggest projects that the current ED, Mr. Robert Ochai inherited when he assumed office. Together with his team, he raised additional funding from TASO friends from near and far, including the Board of Trustees, Staff, Subscriber Members and Clients, to complete this dream of a symbol of hope for TASO clients and friends. TASO pays great tribute to all the friends who contributed to make this big dream a reality.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr. Micheal A Strong, the PEPFAR Coordinator, US Mission Kampala, Uganda, noted that the House of Hope is an investment for people living with HIV and will generate revenue for TASO for years to come to sustain the excellent work on HIV and AIDS prevention, care and support. He urged all organizations to emulate TASOs example of looking outside our narrow boxes to find creative ways to fund and sustain the efforts to improve the health of all Ugandans.  On their part, the ED, Mr. Robert Ochai and the Immediate former ED, Dr Alex Coutinho, noted that TASO‘s commitment to preventing HIV infection, restoring hope and improving the quality of life of persons, families and communities affected by HIV infection and disease, has resulted into the organization taking up a pioneering pace setter role in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country and the region.  From the enviable milestones recorded over the years, the name TASO has now come to be synonymous with any initiatives in HIV prevention, care, support and treatment in Uganda.

The House of Hope is a modern facility, complete with a 400 seater conference facility/board room and a parking yard of over 30 vehicles. The facility also has a wall of memory of over 100,000 departed TASO clients. TASO is pleased to posses this facility on behalf of everybody involved in the fight against the HIV pandemic and especially the gallant clients who have given HIV a face. There is hope and together we shall fight on to defeat HIV so we can, one day, reach our vision of “A world without HIV”.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

Both Friend Force of Knoxville and Friend Force of Memphis are hosting the Russian delegates this week, including today. 

The Russian delegates in Knoxville will be meeting with governmental officials Mayor Daniel Brown as well as Judge Tom Varlan today. They will be briefed on the bluegrass music of Appalachia at the Knoxville Visitor's Center, and their afternoon will be spent visiting with Cherokee Health Systems. This evening, the North Rotary Club of Knoxville will host the Russian delegates for dinner.

In Memphis, the delegates will meet with the Memphis Medical Society as well as with the University of Memphis. At the University, there will be round table discussions regarding healthcare delivery in Russia and the United States among other presentations.

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

In following the meetings and events of the Russian delegation learning from Tennessee's wealth of health care corporations, universities, and institutions, we will share their schedule throughout the week.

Today, Tuesday, November 1, the delegates visiting Knoxville have spent the morning at Pellissippi State Community College touring the Nursing Department. This afternoon, they toured the UT Hospital and had a quick photo at the Rachmaninoff statue in World’s Fair Park. Afterwards, they will visit the Knoxville Museum of Art and learn about their Mobile Meals program for the elderly.

In Memphis, the other delegates met this morning at the Christ Community Health Services. This organization is a faith-based network of medical and dental clinics supplemented by a range of community outreach activities.  CCHS serves a primarily low-income minority population that does not have the resources to obtain care elsewhere. For lunch, they visited the Caritas Village. And, this afternoon, they visited the Assisi Foundation of Memphis for a presentation and discussion on current health care reform initiatives and then the Hope and Healing Center to learn about their wellness and fitness program for a low-income population.

by Walter Schratt
Vanderbilt Department of Surgery
Kijabe, Kenya

I arrived at the beginning of September for my first time in Africa. I really did not know what to expect but after 2 weeks I am really deeply impressed. Kijabe hospital is a medical center in Kenya where people get medical treatment at a high level for a reasonable price. The doctors are well trained – mostly in America and Australia, the residents, house and medical officers are highly motivated, have abundant basic medical knowledge, and, on top of that, they receive a detailed and profound training in their specialties that will prepare them for their challenges in the smaller community hospitals. Politics just has to make sure that they stay here in Africa to serve their countries and their people after they are finished with their training.

Same for the nursing staff. The nurses are competent, helpful, motivated.  A substantial number of nurses who are trained here are hired at the big and prestigious hospitals in Nairobi – unfortunately for the Kijabe hospital but also an expression of the quality of training they receive at Kijabe hospital.

The African people are friendly, open and very patient and generally happy.  Imagine 100 people in surgical clinic, first come  first serve, waiting from 9 am to be seen at 3 pm – no complaints, still happy to be seen after a 6 h wait. Those people deserve our help despite political uncertainties. The fellow doctors who work here full time on their missionary dedication deserve our full recognition and support. I am lucky to be here. I am looking forward to the rest of my stay and hopefully I will be back some time.

In May 2007, Dr. William H. Frist co-led a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) delegation to Russia to participate in the first St. Petersburg State University Forum on Global Health. The forum explored bi-national cooperation in health and health care delivery, including the exploration of establishing a public health initiative in Russia.

At the conclusion of the trip, Senator Frist published the paper: “Improving Russian-U.S. Collaboration on Health” (Washington Quarterly, 30:4, 2007, pp. 7-17) which focused on how Russia and the U.S., in a time fraught with tension, could work together to solve public health issues in terms of policy, behavioral change, and chronic disease. Both could emerge as better, healthier, more viable countries, with health partnerships strengthening diplomatic relations. 

Senator Frist, a trustee at CSIS, was instrumental in establishing the Global Health Policy Center, and he served on the advisory board of the Commission for Smart Global Health Policy. This commission created the report, “A Healthier, Safer, and More Prosperous World,” as the product of a year’s worth of study of the long-term U.S. strategic approach to global health. Dr. Frist, in addition, serves as a co-chair of the Eurasia Health Project as a part of the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program. 

Initiation of the idea of receiving a Russian delegation of high level physicians in Tennessee began with a discussion among Russian and American experts in global health at CSIS in May 2009.  Co-chaired by Senator William Frist, former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and CSIS Trustee, and Dr. Nikolai Gerasimenko, First Vice Chair of the Russian Duma’s Committee on Health Protection, the panel weighed new ideas for future Russian-U.S. joint initiatives and generated considerable shared excitement.  CSIS Senior Associate Judyth Twigg played the lead role in conceptualizing and coordinating the session. Approximately twenty additional experts on U.S.-Russian collaboration on health, representing government, academia, and the private sector, contributed significantly to these discussions, which amounted to a brainstorming session for a blueprint for strategic bi-national collaboration on health

Dr. Andrew C. Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program, and Dr. Judyth Twygg have been part of this effort to bring Russians to the U.S. from the beginning. On January 31, 2011 the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program hosted a conference as part of the Eurasia Health Project entitled, "Sharing Health: U.S.-Russian Collaboration in the Health Sector.” Dr. Nikolai Gerasimenko, a long-standing member of the Russian parliament and former chair of its health committee, served as the Russian Co-Chair along with Senator Bill Frist from the U.S. This meeting, which discussed U.S. and Russian efforts in health sector reform, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and regional-level efforts at health reform, was intended to generate momentum toward meaningful communication and collaboration between the two countries at both the governmental and non-governmental levels. Senator Frist’s article, “What the Doctor Orders” (Foreign Policy, 9/11/09) highlights the key findings and conclusions of this conference. 

While serving in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Frist worked alongside Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington to establish the Open World Program by an act of Congress in 2000. The Open World Leadership Center conducts the first and only international exchange agency in the U.S. Legislative Branch and, as such, has enabled more than 16,500 current and future leaders from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to meaningfully engage and interact with Members of Congress, Congressional staff, and thousands of other Americans, many of whom are the delegates’ direct professional counterparts. Senator Frist served on the board of Open World from 2003 to 2010. 

Prompted by Senator Bill Frist, M.D., Senator Lamar Alexander sent a request to James Billington, Chairman of the Board of Open World Leadership Center, to host a health exchange with Russian health professionals in the state of Tennessee. Dr. Billington responded in a Letter to Senator Alexander with enthusiasm: 

     “Having hosted nearly 400 Georgian, Kyrgyzstani, Russian, Ukrainian, and Uzbekistani participants—including health leaders—in Tennessee, Open World has an excellent statewide network of local host organizations and host families there. I am confident that, working with Senator Frist and his staff, you and your staff, and CSIS, Open World can carry out an exceptionally strong program on health care that will benefit both the Russian delegates and the participating Tennesseans.” 

Open World agreed to provide nominations for the Russian delegates, and the Open World Moscow staff worked with the Administration of Kirov Region with approval of Governor Nikita Belykh.

High rates of communicable and chronic diseases, outdated medical equipment and facilities, and inadequate health care financing have contributed to a health care crisis in Russia. Open World provides grants for a Health Care Provision to address the issues relating to the delivery of services for patients with communicable or non-communicable diseases as well as at-risk individuals. Open World hopes that the outcome of this exchange is a medical partnership between the State of Tennessee and the Kirov Region. 

Senator Frist has assisted directly in the organization of the statewide effort to place the Russian physicians in programs across Tennessee consistent with their interests in rural health, academic medicine, information technology, and health service delivery. 

Senator Frist has had a longstanding commitment to “using health as a currency for peace.” Health care partnerships and exchanges of information provide powerful and robust contributions to diplomatic relations between the peoples of two countries. Such health diplomacy contributes to better understanding among nations and leads to dialogue in other spheres of human and government interaction. “Health as a currency for peace” allows individuals to be a part of missions greater than themselves and provides a way for America to begin to think about a long-term vision for building bridges of trust around the world, in both G8 nations as well as developing ones. Building Russian-U.S. collaboration in health care will benefit the foreign and public diplomacy of our nations and a better quality of life for the citizens of both nations.

Last week, the Russian delegates arrived and spent time with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Kaiser Family Foundation, and National Institutes for Health in Washington, D.C. For the weekend, the delegates separated into two groups to tour both Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee. In Knoxville, the delegates enjoyed a football game and other festivities and today they will visit De Royal Industries. In Memphis, the delegates visited St. Jude Children's Hospital, the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale Street over the weekend. Today, they will tour the Shelby County Health Department and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital. We are excited to host these health professionals in the State of Tennessee!

We will keep you apprised daily of their activities this week.

by Sina Iranmanesh
Vanderbilt Department of Surgery, Resident
Kijabe, Kenya

sina iranmesh blog

No doubt, working at Kijabe is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Upon setting foot on the dirt road leading to the hospital, I knew I would face many hurdles over the next four weeks as a general surgery resident.   Over time, I appreciated subtle clues and changes in each patient’s physical exam to help guide the management of their care without relying on further information.

Lesson number two: I could no longer practice medicine ignoring the financial burden of my treatment plan.  Practicing cost-conscious medicine was not just beneficial on a global sense, but specifically affected each family suffering from an economic crisis.  Even worse, many treatment options (i.e., chemotherapy, radiation therapy, referrals to specialists) were physically or financially inaccessible by our patient population.  For example, unlike women in the U.S. who had the option of a lumpectomy with radiation for breast cancer, our patients in Kijabe underwent a mastectomy because they could not afford radiation. I spent time counseling a young woman on her treatment options after removal of a large tumor from her thigh. I recommended radiation therapy to reduce the chance of the tumor returning, though she decided against it after discovering how much it would cost her.  Such encounters were unfortunately fairly common.

In contrast to the philosophy of utilizing single-use, individually wrapped, and disposable equipment in Western operating rooms, Kijabe’s mantra of maximizing its very limited resources proved surprisingly effective. With the exception of our gloves, every piece of equipment used in the operating room (especially those labeled as ‘single-use’) had been routinely sterilized over and over again. I can only wonder what impact we can have on the US Healthcare Crisis if we learned a few lessons from Kijabe...

Kijabe is renowned for its level of care and medical education. As such, it is home to a number of visiting physicians of all levels of training. I felt fortunate to have encountered a number of these missionary physicians.  My one-month commitment to work in an African hospital paled in comparison to individuals (and their families) who offered years of devotion. Working alongside such individuals was inspiring to say the least.  I am grateful for the opportunity to experience medicine from a different angle, and the lessons I learned along the way.

 

by Brande Jackson

last stop water hope

After working with over 100 volunteers and getting 5000 new supporters for clean water initiatives, Water = Hope wrapped up another fun summer with the Brad Paisley H2O tour!

Our last weekend started out in rainy Philadelphia, where we were still able to have a great night - Philly was one of our best stops on the 2010 tour! - thanks to a hard working volunteer team that braved the elements to talk to fans and build support. We could not have done it without them!

The next day the tour stopped in Bristow, VA, outside of Washington DC. We were joined by a repeat volunteer, Ashley, who brought along her sister this time around, as well as a  hardworking (and very funny!) father-daughter team, and two high school friends who were accompanied by mom. Our team did great, talking to hundreds of fans about the importance of clean water; in fact, two of our volunteers signed up over 300 people all on their own, a very impressive feat. And, for the first time in a looooong time, we had a show with no rain, a change we were very grateful for!

Raleigh was the final stop of the tour this year, and we were excited to wrap things up with a big volunteer crew of 10, including about five volunteers who were joining us for the second year in a row. They worked hard to help us end the tour on a great note.

All in all, it was an amazing summer full of incredible volunteers, supportive fans, and lots of love from the Brad Paisley crew. At the end of the day, going out on tour with an artist is really about the chance to use music as a connecting force, and we were reminded time and time again this summer of the compassionate nature of the country community.  We are excited to see how many lives are impacted by the work of our volunteers and supporters from this summer!

by Omo Aisagbonhi
Vanderbilt School of Medicine
Ogbomoso, Nigeria

omo 2

Today started as usual with ward rounds, visiting my patients: Stephen, baba with DM and Mr. SO whom we operated on for appendicitis. I really feel sorry for Stephen’s dad.

Then we went to the OR where we had one scheduled surgery and one emergent ex-lap. The scheduled surgery was removal of a breast mass; turned out to be a chocolate cyst (grossly). I really enjoyed having scrubbed in. I started the IV line and first-assisted; also got to close the skin. I really do enjoy surgery especially on days like this when I feel competent; when the operation went well, when I closed skin properly, when I feel I helped the team help a patient. 

The second case was interesting. A man in his 60s/70s presented to the hospital after a road traffic accident in which he obtained rib fractures and perineal laceration. He also had an acute-appearing abdomen with left quadrant tenderness, hypoactive bowel sounds and free air on x-ray. We were concerned about stomach/small intestine perforation or splenic laceration. The interesting part of the story is that upon entering his abdomen, what we found was indeed a perforated viscus (small intestine) but there were surrounding adherent exudates to suggest bacterial perforation such as typhoid perforation, not due to trauma. His spleen and other internal organs were fine. We wonder if he was ill preceding his accident; I’d find out from him on rounds tomorrow

After the OR, went to physician conference where Dr. Aremu talked about the responsibilities of family physicians to their patients. There was a post-presentation announcement about ensuring patients pay their bills up-front especially in non-emergent cases. The thing is that this is a small town where many of our patients cannot afford the hospital bills; many go into debt as a result, but the hospital needs funds to run to be able to keep helping patients; there really is a need for a national/state-wide health insurance system.

Overall, I’ve had an excellent experience here in Ogbomoso. The physicians here do so much with very little. I admire the tradition of praying before every surgery and before every clinical encounter. There is obviously room for improvement, need for specialists such as pathologists, cardiologists and ICU physicians, and need for better diagnostic and monitoring equipment such as ECG monitors (there isn’t one even in the ICU) and CT scanners (especially given the volume of patients that present with head injuries). I think though that beyond the hospital and immediate control of hospital personnel, general road safety urgently needs to be addressed. Too many patients present with and die from otherwise preventable injuries secondary to road traffic accidents. Also urgent, is the need for a health insurance system as too many patients end up being turned away or under-treated due to inability to afford medical services.

 

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