An Insider’s Look: HIV/AIDS Clinics in South AfricaAccording to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), roughly 7.8 million adults and children are currently HIV positive in South Africa. HIV is a life-threatening immunodeficiency virus transmitted through bodily fluids. Upon infection, the virus causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) which cannot be reversed or cured. As a result, people living with HIV/AIDS have weak immune systems and cannot fight off common diseases.

Considering the seriousness of HIV/AIDS, affected communities in South Africa require immediate attention and assistance. Below are 3 facts about a non-governmental organization called Child Family Health International (CFHI) that sends healthcare students to work in HIV/AIDS Clinics in South Africa. Afterward, a CFHI healthcare student recalls his experience working at an HIV/AIDS clinic in Durban, South Africa.

3 Facts about Child Family Health International (CFHI)

Firstly, CFHI offers health education programs around the world. Every year, the organization sends undergraduate students and faculty members abroad to experience healthcare systems in different countries. To date, the organization offers programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Ghana, India, the Philippines, Uganda and South Africa. For the South Africa program, participants have an opportunity to work in a tertiary public hospital, a Parochial Hospital, a hospice center or an HIV/AIDS clinic.

Secondly, CFHI partners with HIV/AIDS clinics in South Africa. To help mitigate the rising number of HIV-positive cases in Durban, South Africa, CFHI sends students and staff to a local HIV/AIDS clinic called the “Blue Roof Clinic.” Originally, the Blue Roof building housed a local nightclub renowned for drug and alcohol abuse. However, in 2006 the non-profit organization Keep a Child Alive (KCA)‘s cofounder, professional singer Alicia Keys, helped to buy the building. After years of renovations, it became a local HIV/AIDS clinic dedicated to providing free medication and treatment to South Africans testing positive for HIV.

Thirdly, CFHI helps to combat poverty in South Africa. By sending students to the Blue Roof Clinic, the organization assists thousands of HIV-positive patients every month. This type of assistance includes giving patients anti-retroviral medicine, psychological support, legal advice, nutrition guides and HIV prevention tips. Best of all, HIV/AIDS treatments are free of charge and offered to everyone in need. The only cost to patients includes transportation to and from the clinic. Overall, CFHI continues enrolling thousands of students from over 35 different countries to help people around the world.

3 Interview Questions with a CFHI alumnus

To learn more about CFHI, The Borgen Project interviewed Christian Warner, a CFHI healthcare alumnus.

  1. Tell me about yourself and why you participated in the South Africa CFHI program. “My name is Christian Warner and I studied public health at Oregon State University (OSU). I had an internship in South Africa through CFHI my senior year of school. I chose CFHI’s program in South Africa because students have an opportunity to work in local HIV clinics and help local populations living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Overall, I wanted to gain healthcare experience working in a foreign environment.”
  2. What does an average day working in HIV/AIDS Clinics in South Africa look like? “I spent time working at an HIV/AIDS clinic called Blue Roof Clinic. Each morning, I arrived at the clinic to make sure we had adequate supplies. Typical supplies included sanitation gloves, cleaning supplies and antiretroviral treatments for patients. A couple hours later, patients would start showing up. During the day, I shadowed retired nurse practitioners working in the clinic. The nurses would ask patients a variety of medical history questions before administering treatment. They also asked whether patients had trouble getting to the clinic transportation-wise. Our mission is to ensure everyone can access the clinic and its resources.”
  3. How do HIV/AIDS Clinics in South Africa ensure treatment is available to all, regardless of socioeconomic status? “The Blue Roof Clinic offers free walk-in appointments and HIV treatments for everyone in need. This allows people to seek medical assistance without visiting the hospital or acquiring insurance. The clinic also makes people feel comfortable because their medical and visitation history is 100% confidential.”

Ending the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

The U.N. pledged to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030. To accomplish this goal, 90% of people living with HIV must know that they carry the disease and have access to treatment. Therefore, governments and non-governmental organizations worldwide are donating billions of dollars to provide affected communities with antiretroviral medicines and other treatments. However, governments must also monitor antiretroviral medicine supply chains and stockpiles to ensure economic ramifications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic do not disrupt people’s access to treatment.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and health in argentina

Though Argentina does not suffer from the same issues of illiteracy and income inequality that other countries do, the South American nation has other problems to focus on, namely national health issues and their intersection with poverty. According to 2017 estimates, about one in every four Argentinians lives below the poverty line.

This means that many in Argentina do not have access to proper medical personnel or equipment, as well as medicine. Though this number may seem fairly standard compared to other South American countries, Argentina’s largely agrarian communities suffer from extremely limited access to sufficient education or medical facilities. As a result, even those not considered impoverished may not have the proper means to receive medical treatment, thus creating a vicious cycle of poverty’s effect on health in Argentina.

An Unstable System

Argentina’s health system is in part to blame for this issue. Argentina created a system comprised of a public and a private sector, the former of which is meant to provide all Argentinians with universal healthcare and free coverage. In theory, this seems like an advantageous idea as it is meant to directly address everyday health issues for every citizen. However, it actually perfectly exemplifies poverty’s effect on health in Argentina. The reality is that problems like regional socioeconomic disparities have caused the system to work inefficiently, meaning that those in less educated, more rural areas do not usually receive the same quality of care and coverage as those in wealthier urban communities. This unfortunate issue is quite cyclical since poorer communities simply do not have a viable way to resolve it.

Local Perspectives

Zack Tenner, a Pre-Med university student who spent a month earlier this summer working in Argentina with Child Family Health International, commented on Argentina’s health and poverty issues in an interview with The Borgen Project. “Argentina prides itself on a universal healthcare system which guarantees the ability for all citizens and tourists to see a doctor without cost. Despite its attempts to create a working and efficient system, Argentina’s emergency departments are overburdened,” said Tenner.

“The homeless and impoverished populations do not have enough access to education on how to properly use the system to their benefit, meaning that they end up being stuck with the same limited healthcare and access to medicine as before. This is definitely a timely issue that should be one of Argentina’s top priorities, as national health is a huge factor in so many different facets of everyday life.”

Rural Challenges

The flawed healthcare system is not helping poverty’s effect on health in Argentina. In more rural and agrarian communities, Argentinians are exposed to more risks of disease and injury as well. Aside from the constant risk of minor injuries from agriculture and operating machinery, diseases and viruses like Typhoid and even Zika occur in Argentina.

In other words, the Argentinians with probably the highest risk of injury or disease and subsequent healthcare and medicine are also the citizens with the least sufficient access to viable sources of healthcare. Argentina is on the right track in terms of creating a universal healthcare system.

That said, the South American nation needs to implement a more complete system that truly affords people from all walks of life with adequate medicine and treatment. Otherwise, poverty’s effect on health in Argentina will continue and, with it, a seemingly inescapable cycle.

NGO Involvement

All that in mind, there are still several NGOs focused on improving the healthcare and treatment situations in Argentina. Child Family Health International, for example, aims to increase awareness of primary care and treatment issues in Argentina by bringing in students and doctors from other countries to work with Argentinian physicians and patients. Aside from that, other larger entities such as the World Health Organization are also working to increase awareness of health issues in Argentina. This organization provides pertinent data and information regarding Argentina’s healthcare and coverage system to incite activism and aid for the South American nation.

As for organizations focused on more specific health-related issues, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has worked since its creation in 2013 to provide support for testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Argentina. In fact, the organization supports seven Argentinian clinics and their nearly 12,000 patients and has performed more than 120,000 HIV tests for citizens in the last six years.

As long as organizations like these continue to create awareness and provide assistance, the healthcare and treatment situations will continue to improve, thus lessening poverty’s effect on health in Argentina.

Ethan Marchetti
Photo: Flickr


Climate Change and Public Health: A Crucial ConnectionPublic health and the environment do not, on the surface, seem like related topics, but their relationship is crucial to protecting all people and living things.

More and more scientists and health professionals are agreeing that the connection between climate change and public health is an area of increasing concern. As the effects of climate change on lessening biodiversity and worsening severe weather become more transparent, the changing environment is having dire effects, especially on impoverished populations.

While human health is now, by most metrics, better than it has ever been, ongoing planetary changes threaten to reverse this progress. These threats require a new approach to health research and policy called “planetary health.”

In broad terms, planetary health asserts that humanity cannot sustain itself while ecological life suffers. Like traditional public health, it defines health broadly, including physical, mental and social well-being. It therefore considers health not just on an individual basis, but across entire populations.

For example, nutrition is becoming a growing concern as water scarcity and social degradation continue as they currently are. Decreased biodiversity also limits how many crops people can grow as well as threatens the livelihoods of many – especially rurally based and often impoverished demographics. City dwellers and those in developed countries might not see immediate losses, but those who produce the least emissions while living in poverty will be at the greatest disadvantage.

Many health organizations are now recognizing this connection between climate change and public health. Child Family Health International recently vouched support for the Planetary Health and One Health Movements, each dedicated to applying a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at an ecological level. The organization offers many programs under both movements to target a wide array of disciplines aiming to support planetary health, food waste reduction, low environmental impact diet, improved governance, efficient water usage, ending deforestation and family and city planning.

Even an influential medical journal has recently brought awareness to climate change and public health. The Lancet now publishes information about planetary health, focusing on climate policies and their health benefits. Global warming itself brings public health challenges – with tropical diseases like malaria expanding their range and storms or floods triggering sanitation problems. By discussing productive ideas like shutting down coal plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions and preventing people from getting sick or dying from breathing or heart problems, planetary health can turn into an entire field of study driven by educated minds.

Solving climate change and public health concerns is no easy feat. However, through a multifaceted perspective highlighting the important relationship between these two issues, global efforts to improve lives can better supporting everyone toward a more sustainable future.

Allie Knofczynski
Photo: Flickr

Less than half of the population in Uganda has access to health care. In addition, the country suffers from a deficit of 1.5 million health workers. It is therefore not surprising that treatable diseases are the leading cause of death in Uganda.

The government created the Village Health Team program in 2001 to focus on the lack of health workers. The joint program “Community Health Workers & Global Health” will be based in Uganda’s Mukono District, 13 miles from the capital Kampala. The Child Family Health International organization offers global health education programs that “broaden students’ perspective on global health.”

Child Family Health International (CFHI) is partnering with Omni Med to expand health care capacity from rural to central Uganda. This expansion will improve Omni Med’s training and surveillance of Village Health Team and allow participants to assist the locally-led capacity building and quality assurance.

Omni Med began its work in Uganda in 2008 and has since trained over 1,200 community health workers and established protected water sources and cookstoves as well as distributing insecticide-treated nets. These teams include health educators in rural villages who make a big difference in the health of the world’s poorest people.

Village Health Teams are elected by local villagers and tasked with educating locals with preventative health information, referring sick people to health care centers and tracking health trends for Uganda’s Ministry of Health.

Child Family Health International Global Health Scholars, also known as participants, will assist the Village Health Teams in providing locals in rural Mukono with the best preventative tool: knowledge.

Scholars will accompany the teams on their home visits, train and maintain the team’s health knowledge by teaching in quarterly meetings and aiding in other Omni Med local activities.

“We believe strongly that it is not enough to feel good about what we do–we have to measure the impact we make, and then adjust our programs based on the data,” president and founder of Omni Med, Dr. Ed O’Neil Jr said.

Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: PRweb, CFHI
Photo: Flickr

Child Family Health International (CFHI) at a Glance
There is a plethora of organizations working toward the betterment of our world and the people living in it, however, they often do not get the attention or credit they deserve. So let’s shine a little spotlight on one and take a minute to appreciate others’ hard work and the power of teamwork.

Child Family Health International (CFHI) is a nonprofit organization that is focused on global health education. They offer education programs for individuals interested in global health and related careers. Here are three ways CFHI is working towards improving global health.

Educate Future Global Health Crusaders

CFHI offers education programs for students or volunteers to gain experience with the clinical practices, public health and social services in developing nations. They work within Latin America, Africa and India.

Participants of community-based Global Health CFHI programs can gain the valuable experience needed to build their resumes or earn college credit. CFHI offers more than twenty different programs in seven countries that work within and with the local community on projects like providing healthcare for underserved communities in the Himalayas to training midwives in Oaxaca.

Integrates into the Local Health Care Community

CFHI recognizes that there are already health care professionals and experts residing in the community they are working in and have partnered with existing health care providers. By utilizing local community leaders and health workers, CFHI helps support the development of opportunities for their international partners.

They invest in the continuing of their educations by offering scholarships for higher degrees and including locals in conferences and workshops. CFHI holds that students can learn not only from CFHI staff but also from those living in the communities they are working with.

Invests in Host Community

Students who participate in a CFHI education program pay a fee, which is common amongst study abroad experiences. However, unlike many other programs, CFHI invests half of a student’s fee back into the community they will be working and learning in. The invested funds work to bolster the economy of the countries CFHI works with and compensate the communities for their time, expertise and hospitality.

Brittney Dimond

Sources: Child Family Health International 1, Child Family Health International 2,
Photo: Flickr

One of the nonprofit leaders in global health education, Child Family Health International, announced it will extend its educational programs to Uganda, starting in 2014.

Since 1992, Child Family Health International  has worked at the grassroots level to promote global health by addressing community-specific needs. The program places health profession students along native community physicians in developing countries to better understand the reality of global health.  As of now, Child Family Health International has programs in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, India, Mexico and South Africa. The organization is known for its approach of developing innovative ways to provide quality healthcare in impoverished, resource-poor communities.

Child Family Health International’s Executive Director, Dr. Jessica Evert, explained the unique nature of the program site in Uganda. “We are partnering with a self-identified ‘activated community’ that is working at the grassroots level to address multifaceted interactions between poverty, ill health, lack of education and the need for empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa.”  These programs in Uganda focus on nutrition, sustainable agriculture and HIV and women’s/children’s health.

A recent study of the organization’s impacts, featured in American Association of Medical College’s Journal of Academic Medicine, shows improvement in understanding of culture, public health, community medicine and the overall struggle in achieving global health. This small, yet unique, program, tackles the issue head on and through the efforts of education, gives aid to communities and people in need.

– Sonia Aviv 
Sources: All AfricaChild Family Health InternationalWorld Health Organization
Photo: Global Highered