Update: September 9, 2006.
After a great visit to Canada (one week at AIDS 2006 in Toronto and a week in Montreal), our colleagues from Europe and Africa went home energized for the the work ahead. Here's a bit of an update at the end of a week of mostly good news.
Christina Clausen, our first McGill Nurses' Highlands Hope Fellow, arrived in Njombe on Thursday and has begun working with Betty Liduke creating a shared research and training agenda for Highlands Hope and the McGill School of Nursing. We're hoping that we can give you some regular updates on the website from Christina and Betty during the two months of her stay.
The Partec technology saga continues to unfold with lots of journalistic and internal government pressure on the Minister of Health to go back on the decision to ban CyFlow CD4% machines from Tanzania (this is the technology used very effectively at all three Highlands Hope sites). At this point, reagents for the German machines are still available from our HH technology supply partner, action medeor, in Tz, but there was an excruciatingly ironic moment two week ago when Tz Customs officials turned away a donated CyFlow machine destined for an HIV orphanage in Dodoma because only FACScount is allowed into the country; FACScount cannot test children. The battle continues.
PIUMA's application for a license to run an HIV Care and Treatment Centre is in active negotiation still, though there is word that the government and PIUMA may have reached a compromise. PIUMA was insisting that it be allowed to provide services in Bulongwa because of the inadequate care currently being provided by the Lutheran Hospital. The local government was reluctant to approve what would be, in effect, two clinics in the same town. The compromise would have PIUMA begin its services (including development of mobile, village-based capacity) in a neighboring part of the district around a village called Matamba.
Conrad Harrington, a recent graduate of Dalhousie University, will be going to Makete District to work with Jackson Mbogela and PIUMA. He will focus on helping Jackson with the management of the patients' rights group as it grows toward its potential membership of several thousand.
We have a first financial donation to the preparations for our PIUMA-Highlands Hope HIV awareness-solidarity march in Summer 2007 from Bulongwa to Mbeya. James Hughes has taken on the heavy lifting of thinking and planning for that (along with Kabuyu Kyando and Isaac Sanga from PIUMA). We hope that a number of Canadians will join us for the awareness march; start training, it's about a 100 km stroll!
And the teachers and students of St. George's School have decided they want to work on the issue of school fees and how they affect orphans and vulnerable children in the Highlands Hope districts of Makete and Njombe. Discussions are planned with the Kibena Women's Association and PIUMA and we'll see where we get!
We are also looking at dates for the next McGill site visit in December or January. Dr. Alison Doucet from the Family Medicine group will be taking us to the next level of establishing a participatory research project and evaluating opportunities for medical service delivery to Highlands Hope sites. We also want to work on McGill medical student participation in the project.
Dr. Rainer Brandl is in Vienna for the moment and working to build some new links with Austrian AIDS activists and government foreign aid programs.
Just a bit of news.
Highlands Hope Canada