Tag Archives: Intrahealth

Community of Volunteers Creates 3D-Printed Prosthetic Hands for Children

At last month’s IntraHealth International SwitchPoint conference I had the opportunity to put together a 3D-printed hand with e-Nable, a global community collaborating to make free 3d-printed prosthetic hands available to all who need them.

The hand wasn’t easy to put together and I got nowhere close to finishing, but I learned that through a little ingenuity and modern technology even prosthetic hands can be created and customized for those who don’t have one.

The hands all start with a 3D-printed mobile and are put together by strings and screws by volunteers. The hands are intended for children and adults who have who have wrists but no fingers or elbows with no wrists/hands.

e-Nable Hand
Pieces of a 3D-printed hand. Photo: Jennifer James

The hands are meant to do some everyday tasks like picking things up or holding cups, for example. They are not, however, full medical prosthetic hands.

“At $30-$50, they’re cheap enough that parents can order larger ones as their children grow,” wrote Margarite Nathe for IntraHealth International’s VITAL blog. “The hands are customizable, comfortable, and easy to assemble. And—in perhaps their greatest success—they are beautiful in the eyes of their users (who can choose hands in their favorite colors).”

e-Nable Hand
Fingers of the prosthetic hand. Photo: Jennifer James

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Can Creative Innovators Drive Global Health and Humanitarian Change?

I am currently in a very small North Carolina town known for a few things: its infamous ballroom that was converted into a world class event space from an old, historic cotton mill, its Gastropub, its craft beer as well as its pristine location on the Haw River about twenty minutes from Chapel Hill.

Haw River

I’m here for the SwitchPoint conference that fuses a combination of music, art, microlabs and 15-minute talks on a wide variety of issues ranging from using drones in humanitarian crises to being implored to add more Africa into our timelines and not excepting the narrow narrative arc of the continent.

SwitchPoint is presented by IntraHealth International, the 35-year-old global NGO that works in innovative ways with health workers in 100 countries. SwithPoint is IntraHealth International’s flagship conference where experts, and storytellers, and doers on the ground (wherever in the world that is) convene for two days for a conversation about ways to partner, collaborate, and innovate on ideas.

After the first day at SwitchPoint I walked away knowing there are new ways to reach online and offline communities with messages that moms want to hear and share – issues that not only affect women and children here in the United States, but globally as well.

We heard from extremely talented innovators, social entrepreneurs and others who are indeed innovating on ideas that are shaping the world really as we know it. The day started with Patrick Meier, who founded the Digital Humanitarian Network. He talked about the worldwide use of drones in places like Namibia for conservation efforts and in Haiti where after Hurricane Sandy drones were used to find standing water and flooding across the island country.

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Our 12 Biggest Highlights of 2014

2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.

We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.

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Looking at Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision in the Field

Amos Emmanuel Kakere really wanted to undergo voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC).

A slight young man who looked far younger than his mere 24 years, Kakere, who is married and lives in Mhango village in Tanzania’s Shinyanga region, opted to undergo the procedure after seeing a large VMMC mobile field clinic near his village.

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The clinic, housed in a large, deployable tent and powered by a massive generator, with a waiting area and operating tables inside, was erected and run by IntraHealth International-trained health workers. The mobile clinic reaches 25,000 local men and young boys over the age of 10 from three villages who want to undergo VMMC but do not have access to nearby health facilities.

“I was passing nearby and heard there was a tent and asked what was being done,” Kakere said through translation. “I was anxious to get the service.”

Voluntary medical male circumcision is a common, 15- to 20-minute procedure that reduces HIV acquisition by 60 percent during heterosexual sex. VMMC is considered to be one of the easiest and most effective methods to reduce HIV transmission.

When I asked him how he felt about the procedure, Constantine gave a thumbs-up and simply said, “Poa,” which means “cool” in Swahili.

It’s been found, surprisingly, that women in sub-Saharan Africa tend to be excellent targets of VMMC messaging, as they encourage their partners to get circumcised and they understand that while not foolproof, a circumcised partner poses a lesser HIV threat than one who isn’t.

Village announcement campaigns also educate and bring in potential VMMC clients. Constantine Michael, 10, heard the announcement in his village and asked his older sister, Rosalea Michael, 19, to take him to IntraHealth’s mobile clinic.

“I heard from the announcement in the village,” Constantine said in a low, shy voice. “I asked my sister to bring me.”

Rosalea agreed to take Constantine to get the procedure, but only after explaining VMMC to him. When I met them, Constantine was waiting in line with other young boys to get tested for HIV and be counseled afterward before undergoing the procedure.

When I asked him how he felt about getting the procedure done, Constantine gave a thumbs-up and simply said, “Poa,” which means “cool” in Swahili.

IntraHealth, a global NGO that works in 90 countries and trains health workers to serve public health, works in Shinyanga, Simiyu, and Mara regions in northeast Tanzania to help the Ministry of Health reach the voluntary male circumcision targets set in 2009.

The main challenges are supply-chain management, governance, continuing education, and low pay for health workers.

The expectation is to successfully perform 200,098 voluntary male circumcision procedures by 2017 in these regions.

Located two hours outside Mwanza, Tanzania’s second-largest city, along dusty, bumpy, unpaved roads, IntraHealth’s mobile clinic in Shinyanga region has a daily capacity of 40 to 60 procedures.

Armed with CDC funding, IntraHealth works to effectively reduce the 7.4-percent HIV-prevalence rate in the three regions in which they work on VMMC. The HIV rate in these areas is higher than the nationwide average, making the scale-up and outreach of VMMC critical.

The Tanzanian government takes part in the human-resource side of regional VMMC projects and also pays health workers, explained Dr. Gissenge Liga, the head of the Clinical STI Unit and a national VMMC focal person. Yet there are still challenges that health workers who work on VMMC face.

Dr. Ntuli Kapologwe, a regional medical officer in Shinyanga, says the main challenges are supply-chain management, governance, continuing education, and low pay for health workers. “On the regional level people are competent,” Kapologwe said. “We are doing our best.”

Paying nothing for his circumcision because voluntary medical male circumcision is an HIV-prevention procedure, Amos Kakere underwent the relatively quick procedure inside the air-conditioned field clinic. Aside from the initial pain of the anesthesia shot, Kakere lay still on the operating table during the relatively painless procedure. He was given painkillers, instructed to return after three days for follow-up, and told to abstain from sex for six weeks in order for the circumcision to fully heal.

Voluntary medical male circumcision has made definite inroads in Tanzania through years of initial pilot projects, awareness and education campaigns, and a scale-up of VMMC services provided in health facilities and in mobile units. The approach seems to be working.

Before undergoing the procedure Kakere said, “I will encourage my friends. They shouldn’t be scared.”

Disclosure: I traveled to Tanzania as a guest of PSI to see their lifesaving work on the ground with health workers, as well as to see IntraHealth’s VMMC mobile clinic in Shinyanga region.

Photos courtesy of Jennifer James.

– See more at: http://www.intrahealth.org/blog/looking-voluntary-medical-male-circumcision-field#.VEZEDPnF8t4

Traveling to Tanzania With PSI, IntraHealth International, and Mandy Moore

Over the years I have had the distinct privilege of meeting health workers around the world from Ethiopia and Kenya to Tanzania and South Africa to India and Brazil. Health workers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, are the unequivocal backbone of health systems that can oftentimes be severely taxed due to the overwhelming number of people who rely on them for care to the disarray of health systems’ frameworks coupled with a dismal lack of financial allocations to national health care.

Health WorkersFrontline health workers I have met throughout the years. Left to right: Angawadi workers in Delhi, a family planning health worker in Johannesburg, a member of the Health Development Army in Hawassa, Ethiopia, hospital administrators in Lusaka, Zambia, and nurses in Morogoro, Tanzania.

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