Over the past decade there has been growing research that purports the long-held belief that Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) can drastically decrease the rates of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and urinary tract infections in low-and middle-income countries.
In Tanzania, for example, where these photos were taken at an IntraHealth International mobile clinic, HIV can be reduced by sixty percent leading to a AIDS-free generation. In December 2015, Africa celebrated 10 million VMMC procedures mostly concentrated in east and southern Africa.
As I watched baby after baby receive the pentavalent (5-in-1) vaccine at a mobile health post put on by Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) in Haiti this week, their reactions were all the same. First, they were oblivious to what was going on. Then, they all felt a momentary prick of pain and the waterworks began.
Even though each of the babies experienced short-lived pain, they are now protected against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (thus replacing the former diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccine), hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), which causes pneumonia and meningitis.
In September 2014 the Centers for Disease Control along with Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health studied traditional burials in order to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for safe and dignified burials for those who die from Ebola. As of October 2014, a SOP for safe, dignified medical burials was approved and released by the Sierra Leone National Emergency Operations Center. This is a far cry from the insistence upon cremation by the Liberian government in the summer of last year.
As of January 2015, 2500 people have died from Ebola in Sierra Leone. Today when someone dies from Ebola, families have a greater chance of their loved one being buried with dignity without having to touch the deceased who are highly infectious.
Below are photos of an IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross) team removing a body of a young man on December 24, 2014 who was suspected of having Ebola. His family held a small ceremony in the young man’s memory. The body was then driven to the cemetery where it was buried based on the standard operating procedure created in October 2014.
As part of the Western Aera Surge Operation in Sierra Leone, the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society is undertaking safe and dignified burials ensuring that those who have died from the disease are treated with respect, while also ensuring the safety of communities. This is critical work, often performed by volunteers, and undertaken at the most dangerous time. Volunteers must wear full personal protective equipment and work in teams of seven.
This is a young, expectant mother who lives near Butajira, Ethiopia. She was married at 13 and will deliver her first child at 15. She walked to this “lie and wait” house (pictured above) because of excessive bleeding. She lives 30 minutes up in the mountains of southern Ethiopia from the “lie and wait” house. She has never seen a health extension worker and has never been to a health post. Her experience, once again, underscores how difficult it is for Africans who live in the most remote areas of a country to access quality health care.
Her mother, who is now 38, was also married very young, at age 12. She now has eight children. Her youngest is three months old.