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Posted Monday, December 23, 2002

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A Haitian Doctor's Success in the Fight Against Disease
                                        
By David Gonzalez, The New York Times

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Hope is an elusive commodity here. But Dr. Jean W. Pape has found enough of it to confront one of the world's highest AIDS rates.

He has managed to slow the epidemic here, one of the worst outside Africa, by nimbly adapting his medical techniques to the country's political upheaval, withering poverty and crumbling infrastructure.

Dr. Pape has been so successful, in fact, that the world is now recognizing the work he and others have done by making Haiti the first country in the Western Hemisphere to receive a grant from the new, United Nations-initiated Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

In awarding Haiti $25 million, international officials called the treatments and methods devised at the Gheskio Centers, which Dr. Pape directs, and other clinics a model for how poor countries with few resources can combat AIDS, and the tuberculosis and diarrhea that often attack people with the disease.

"Haiti's work has shown conclusively that you cannot use a lack of infrastructure as an excuse not to treat patients," said Anil Soni, adviser to the fund's executive director. "We want to show you can adapt what is being done in poor settings to stabilize patients. That is a lesson for the world."

The award carries a double distinction, since it is going to a network of clinics like Gheskio in a consortium that includes the Haitian government itself.

Although direct foreign aid to the government has been frozen because of a political deadlock, the award is seen as a much-needed injection of money at a time when government-run clinics have decayed.

The funds will increase treatment and prevention in a country where more than 250,000 people are infected by the virus, out of a population of about seven million. Last year, AIDS claimed 30,000 lives.

"We are using this project to say you can't do such a program by ignoring public facilities," Dr. Pape said. "We still have the greatest presence of H.I.V. outside of Africa. What is important is we have been able to control this epidemic in a place that people usually talk about as being in chaos."

Gheskio has had impressive results fighting severe diarrhea with antibiotics, has developed methods of diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases and has found some less expensive drug combinations to treat AIDS.

It and other private groups use funds provided by foundations and foreign governments to buy the medicines, which are priced far beyond the reach of most Haitians. The Global Fund grant will provide medication for about 1,200 more people.

The United Nations Development Program and the Sogebank Foundation, the philanthropic branch of Haiti's leading bank, will manage the funds, which are expected to arrive this month and to be used over a two-year period.

Mr. Soni said the arrangement aimed to maximize efficiency and nurture cooperation between the public and private sectors. If it works, the fund could eventually provide Haiti as much as $67 million over five years, he said.

Haiti's Health Ministry will receive about $1 million to help develop its planning ability and to coordinate the various projects.

"AIDS is not a political problem," said Dr. Henri Claude Voltaire, the minister of health. "It is a public health problem that affects all of society. The vision is clear, we need a strategy that includes everyone."

Mr. Soni said the government had shown its willingness to work with other sectors of the often-fractious society as it convened a series of meetings to discuss how to fight AIDS. The chairwoman is Mildred Aristide, wife of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

"The money is going to be used mostly by nongovernmental organizations not despite the government, but because of the government, which sat down with them to submit the proposal," Mr. Soni said. "We did not get an application saying, `Give us a lot of money and we'll do what we want.' We got an application that said, `Give the money to organizations that will make the best use of it and keep us accountable.' "

Although the country faces a host of problems with water and electricity as well as public health and poverty, a number of clinics have managed to flourish.

Paul Farmer, a founder of Partners in Health, which runs a clinic in the Central Plateau town of Cange, said that although the vast majority of Haiti's AIDS patients live in areas where advanced laboratory tests are unavailable, doctors have relied on simpler blood tests and detailed medical histories to determine who is most in need of medication.

His group, which will receive part of the grant, sends health educators to villages to visit patients and help them to stick to their medical regimen. It has also sponsored educational programs, including video presentations and informal public talks, to increase awareness of the disease and how to avoid it.

Dr. Pape's group now plans to train staff from government clinics as part of his project's activities financed by the Fund. He is confidant that with enough resources, the country can hold the line on the disease until a vaccine is discovered.

And maybe, they can teach the politicians something, said Rene Max Auguste, a businessman with a foundation that helps Dr. Pape.

"The Global Fund process was easier then the political process," Mr. Auguste said. "It showed us we can work together. What is the other choice?"

                                                                                                                                                                                       Posted Monday, December 9, 2002

Global fund launches program to fight AIDS epidemic in Haiti

Press Release

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The Government of Haiti signed this week an agreement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, launching a program that will open a pipeline for grants totaling $67 million to the country over the next five years. It is the first such agreement for the Global Fund with a Caribbean or Latin American country, and also the first with a country outside of Africa. 

Through the agreement, the Global Fund has committed to send approximately $25 million in grant monies to Haiti over the next two years so that the Haitian Government can continue to battle the crippling AIDS pandemic there. Currently, more than 250,000 people are infected with AIDS/HIV in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 30,000 Haitians died from AIDS last year alone, roughly twice the number who died from the disease in the United States that same year.

"We believe that the Global Fund Project will help overcome many barriers to just and adequate treatment for persons living with HIV, offer testing to a greater segment of the population, promote prevention and ultimately contribute to reversing current social conditions in Haiti that facilitate the spread of AIDS," said Mildred Aristide, Haiti's First Lady and the chairperson of Haiti's Country Coordinating Mechanism, the country's national commission working with the Global Fund.

"We will encourage countries around the region and indeed around the world to look to Haiti to learn how to create a vibrant structure to direct the fight against AIDS, and we are confident that [they] will be capable teachers," said a statement from the Secretariat of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

According to the Global Fund, the program will be administered by a strategic coalition that will bring together the Haitian Government, Haitians living with AIDS/HIV, 17 local civil society and private sector organizations in Haiti as well as various multilateral organizations and bilateral donors. A private sector foundation and the United Nations Development Programme will oversee the disbursement of funds to community-based organizations throughout Haiti.

The Global Fund grants will provide additional resources to expand a number of existing treatment and prevention programs in Haiti that have proven effective. According to the Global Fund, the money from the grant will be used to provide antiretroviral therapy to more than 1,200 people living with HIV through a ground-breaking approach that uses community members to promote adherence to treatment. The grant will also allow for the development of communications strategies that will coincide with various marketing efforts, which include the introduction of more than 15 million condoms throughout the country.

"AIDS has already caused too much suffering in Haiti. We hope that the program being launched today will help turn the tide against this terrible killer and so contribute to a rebirth of the nation as it turns 200," said the statement from the Secretariat of the Global Fund.

This material is distributed by Downey McGrath Group, Inc., on behalf of the Government of Haiti. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC.

Source: Downey McGrath Group Email this story.

Copyright 2002 Yahoo! Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Posted Monday, December 5, 2002

AmeriCares sends holidays airlift of medicine, toys to Haiti

NEW CANAAN, Conn., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The annual AmeriCares holiday airlift leaves Miami Saturday for Haiti carrying 40,000 pounds of medicine, supplies and toys for the sick and impoverished.

The cargo aboard the Amerijet 727 is to be distributed by the Haitian Center for Development and Health through hospitals, orphanages and schools.

In the shipment are analgesics, anti-inflammatories, anti-bacterials, antivirals, nutritionals, medical supplies, clothing, boots and sneakers.

Dana Waesche of Norwalk, CT, the AmeriCares project director, said: "AmeriCares is excited to be bringing to Haiti this cargo of essential medicines and medical supplies. In addition to our ongoing assistance addressing the health issues in the country, this shipment will be carrying toys and gifts for the children of Haiti, generously donated by Connecticut community groups."

AmeriCares averages six shipments a month by air and sea cargo, destined for the needy around the globe without regard for race, creed or political orientation. Since it was established in 1982, the organization has delivered more than $2.6 billion in aid to 137 countries. Through the years the shipments to Haiti alone totals more than 4.8 million pounds of relief supplies.

For information call 1 800 486-HELP.

CONTACT: Elizabeth Griffin 1 800-486-HELP

Copyright 2002 Yahoo! Inc.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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