December 20, 2020

Closing the gap: A year of progress amidst the global pandemic

Closing the gap. As we looked through our blog posts from the past 12 months in preparation for our usual end-of-year roundup, the term surfaced again and again.

It is a favorite in the global health community. There, closing the gap often means reducing or eliminating inequities in health systems and the communities they serve in low- and middle-income countries.

The last year has been incredibly challenging for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic threw into sharp relief systemic shortfalls – or gaps – across health systems the world over.

More than 47 million COVID-19 cases have been reported to the World Health Organization. More than 1.2 million people have lost their lives to the disease. At CHAI, we spent the last year helping our partner countries secure affordable supplies – including personal protective equipment, diagnostics, and biomedical equipment for oxygen therapy.

We also continued to support governments within our established programs to ensure those in need saw as little disruption as possible in access to the medicines, treatments, and screenings essential to stay healthy.

As we continued our annual review of the CHAI blog, we felt hopeful.

In many cases, not only were we working with our partners to hold the line against this awful disease, we were closing the gap in other areas. From increasing access to HIV medication for the youngest of children to providing same-day CD4 testing for people living with HIV to lowering the price of cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa.

There is still work to be done. But as we revisit several of our most popular blog posts from 2020, we trust this review will highlight not only challenges, but also the successes of our staff and partners as we close out this year and look forward to 2021.

Resuscitating asphyxiated newborns at a Ugandan hospital

A pediatrician from UPA and midwives working in Mubende RRH going through a simulation session on newborn resuscitation.Senior Pauline was one of only three midwives on duty the night that Ankunda Teddy arrived at the hospital in distress. She had seen too many infants die of asphyxia and hypothermia because of a lack of training to handle the situation. But this time it was different – she had the tools she needed to ensure a successful delivery…read more.

Closing the oxygen access gap: Breathing new life into a neglected therapy

A toddler lies on a blue and red blanket with his eyes closed. He is receiving oxygen.Hold your breath for a few moments. Are you holding it? When we don’t get enough oxygen, our bodies start to shut down. No oxygen, no energy. No energy, no life. Too little oxygen in the blood – hypoxemia – is a life-threatening complication of many severe illnesses contributing to over 800,000 preventable deaths each year. The treatment for hypoxemia is oxygen; but access is often limited. CHAI is working to change that…read more.

Bi-monthly HIV prevention injection is highly effective, now we need to make sure it can be rolled out quickly and equitably.

A health worker leans over a client, whose arm is outreached, as she prepares the client for HIV testing.Almost two years earlier than anticipated, a major clinical trial has shown that a bi-monthly injection is highly effective in preventing HIV in cisgender men and transgender women who have sex with men. As of today, there is further evidence from the sister study HPTN 084 that the product demonstrated superiority to daily oral PrEP among cisgender women.

This is a game-changer for people living with HIV. But the early results from the clinical trial could have caught decision-makers responsible for ensuring individuals at risk of infection have access, off guard. Together with our partners, CHAI is working to make sure we can introduce the injection quickly and safely…read more.

How can we support health workers? Invest in them.

Three delivery room nurses stand arm in arm outside a clinic. The woman in the middle wears a white uniform and the women on either side of her wear pink. All are smiling.Health workers are showing up to increasingly perilous work environments with decreasing certainty of adequate funding, infrastructure or even protective equipment to care for the hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from COVID-19 worldwide. In April, we made a plea to the global health community for change.

Research breakthrough could lead to annual injection to prevent HIV

A health worker in a red shirt discusses options for HIV medication with a woman sitting across the desk from her.Current antiretroviral drugs regimens do an excellent job of suppressing HIV. However, they require people living with HIV to take medicines every day in order to stay virus-free. That can be difficult, especially in low resource settings. Together with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), we are developing a new HIV medication that could be effective for up to one year, transforming the lives of people living with the disease.

Volunteer network key to beating malaria in Cambodia

A volunteer malaria worker walks down a deeply rutted road, the forest making a green canopy overhead.Chhean Savry wades across a stream and onto a well-worn path through the dense forest at the edge of the Cardamom mountains, a malaria hotspot in Cambodia’s Kampong Chhnang province. Savry is a village malaria worker– a volunteer who is trained to diagnose and treat uncomplicated malaria cases in her community. In Cambodia, the Village Malaria Worker network is a critical link between the public health system and the community. Since its relaunching, testing has increased by 214 percent from 2018 to 2019, and malaria cases have dropped by 49 percent…read more.

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