GlobeMed at Columbia University

GlobeMed aims to strengthen the movement for global health equity by empowering students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world. GlobeMed is an international community of students and grassroots organizations who form long-term partnerships, the heart of GlobeMed's model. Together, the chapter and partner organization implement specific health and development projects, communicating on every aspect from initial design to monitoring and evaluation. In just four years, GlobeMed established chapters at 46 universities across the United States, inspiring thousands of students to become lifelong advocates for global health equity. We co...
Apr 14, 2015

Spring's News and Exciting Updates from GWED-G

Mothers with mama kits, donated by Delivering Hope
Mothers with mama kits, donated by Delivering Hope

Hello family, friends, and supporters!

We hope this message finds you enjoying the first few days of spring. We want to thank you all for your support so far this year. So far, 2015 has been great for GlobeMed at Columbia as we have added around 12 new members to our chapter, and strengthened ties between members who have already been with us. As a chapter, we have sent members to our national global health conference in Evanston, Illinois, hosted our bi-annual Gala, and put together many events that both raise awareness about our project and help fundraise for our project on campus. We are thrilled to share recent updates from GWED-G below.

First, we are excited to highlight that GWED-G’s work regarding youth, mama kits, and GlobeMed’s project was featured in the Daily Monitor, a national Ugandan newspaper. Pamela Angwech, GWED-G’s founder and leader, was recently awarded for her work with women’s rights. Additionally, GWED-G, as a leader in movements for gender equality and women’s empowerment, has been involved in a number of collaborations – with several organizations for international women’s day on March 8th, with the French embassy, with the UN, with Mount Sinai in New York, US on their global health curriculum, and with Straight Talk Foundation on developing youth IEC (Information Education and Communication) materials. This outreach and collaboration is very exciting to hear about, as it means that more people than ever are hearing about all that GWED-G does.

As for what GWED-G has been working on specifically, we’d like to relay to you a few important updates. As always, these updates deal with integrating different facets - 146 people were tested for HIV/AIDS through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), 35 pregnant mothers received antenatal testing, 20 mothers benefitted from family planning outreaches, 18 babies were immunized, and 215 community members were involved in discussions on issues surrounding HIV/AIDS through awareness sensitization campaigns. Following up since our last message, mapping of the beneficiaries for this year has been concluded. More mothers have been included in our project - in Coke, we now have 87 HIV-positive mothers, as is true with two other groups, and our original Palema group has 300- all exceeding our capacity set at 50 mothers per group. While there are limits to the number of mothers we can fully accommodate, we can still overcome those limits through your kind donations. Additionally, we have been reaching out to our secondary beneficiaries through awareness and sensitization campaigns and working to continue education to prevent reinfection for the babies.

A new facet of our project which was recently implemented, the Gender Based Violence initiative, has taken off and we are focusing on bringing awareness of gender based violence to women living with HIV and their spouses, including the youths. This is so crucial not only because in itself, gender based violence is shocking, and deeply harmful, but also because it can have dire consequences in terms of physical, mental, and emotional health. In fact, women who experience gender based violence are three times more likely to have an unwanted pregnancy, HIV, or another sexually transmitted disease than those that do not.

More about our collaboration with Straight Talk Foundation: their trainings are for officers working around reproductive health rights and aim to strengthen audience participation during sensitization sessions. Some suggested methods are to make the participant have room to talk, consistently review current methods of outreach, and expose the participants to new knowledge while they are in groups- to have a two sided conversation. As always, HIV/AIDS is a sensitive issue and it’s not enough to focus solely on one person; it is important to involve the family/relatives as well, which GWED-G does, and to cater towards each respective participant age group.

As you can see, both GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia finished 2014 strong! We are grateful for your support in 2015 so far and would like to celebrate the successes we have achieved together. However, we still have a long way to go until the people of northern Uganda fully exercise their right to health. We ask for your contribution to and continued support for GlobeMed at Columbia’s project. Feel free to visit our GlobalGiving page, Wordpress, Tumblr, and Facebook pages or follow us on Twitter.

In solidarity,

GlobeMed at Columbia

Links:

Jan 6, 2015

New Year, New Initiatives

Ox/ox plough that are now being used by Coke youth
Ox/ox plough that are now being used by Coke youth

Hello family, friends, and supporters!

We hope this message finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying the new year. Thank you for your support in 2014. The final quarter was highly successful for GlobeMed at Columbia because we hosted Ms. Pamela Angwech, the director of GWED-G, during which members strengthened personal connections with the inspirational figure who brings GWED-G to life, and the annual global health HillTop conference that drew over a hundred college students and alumni from across the nation; we also held several awareness events and fundraisers, including collaborations with other student groups promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. We have two new co-presidents, Jayati Verma and Mariko Kanai, who will be leading the staff in 2015. We are thrilled to share recent updates from GWED-G below.

To promote maternal and newborn health as well as increased knowledge and awareness on HIV/AIDS, GWED-G staff engaged in follow-up initiatives of HIV-positive mothers and outreach efforts towards adolescent girls of reproductive age. 200 HIV-positive mothers carrying newborns were visited to monitor the progress of drug adherence, offer counseling and referrals when necessary, and to scale-up option B+, which could bring down the mother to child transmission (MTCT) rate from 30% to 2%. Follow-ups also played an important role in locating new HIV-positive mothers to be enrolled on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) immediately, thereby reducing HIV/AIDs-related deaths among women. Furthermore, mobile clinic outreaches helped adolescent girls access family planning services and mothers understand that their 15 and younger HIV-positive children must be put on drugs. With these combined efforts, over 65,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) have been enrolled in treatment.  

Furthermore, 74 new mothers have been enrolled in phase V of the HIV/AIDS mothers’ program. Of the 202 strong women from phase I – IV, several women’s groups have been receiving training in Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) and modern agricultural practices that have proved successful; women saw a fourfold increase in their yield. In addition, the mothers’ overall nutrition level has increased due to the proteinous food that their vegetable and sim sim crops allow them to purchase. As part of the workplan drafted in June 2014, phase III and IV mothers are now being supported with bean seeds to support their livelihood and overall nutritional health. Similarly, Village Health Team (VHT) workers are now receiving training for VSLA, along with Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

In regards to the livelihood of the youth beneficiaries, follow-up was conducted on the youth groups supported by the seed and ox distribution projects. Over fifty such groups have been monitored based on their progress in small farming business expansion, youth agricultural work preparedness, and household income generation.  One Coke parish youth group has been benefitting specifically from both the seeds and the oxen and ox plough that the GROW Team distributed in June 2014. With the income generated from the cabbage and tomato crops and the land opened with the oxen and ox plough, the youth bought and planted 2 hectares of rice, respectively. Furthermore, GWED-G strengthened the cycle of self-sustainability by training the groups in technical areas of investment and large-scale quality production for a hopefully stable future income flow.

Not only have the youths been strengthening their households’ livelihoods and nutrition, but they have also been utilizing their youth group structures to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS and sexual reproductive health rights. In another Coke youth group, GWED-G-trained members learned to build trust with their communities and to increase the number of mothers receiving antenatal care (ANC), through community dialogue meetings that stressed the importance of skilled personnel delivery and encouraged youth to bring women to health facilities. Similarly, the newly added initiative in June 2014- the thirty male role models in Coke and Agwayugi parishes- have also been successfully addressing issues of GBV integral to the discussion of HIV/AIDS, while also recruiting their wives into the outreach efforts.

As you can see, both GWED-G and GlobeMed at Columbia finished 2014 strong! We are grateful for your support in 2014 and would like to celebrate the successes we have achieved together. However, we still have a long way to go until the people of northern Uganda fully exercise their right to health. We ask for your contribution to and continued support for GlobeMed at Columbia’s project. Feel free to visit our GlobalGiving page, Wordpress, Tumblr, and Facebook pages or follow us on Twitter.

Happy (belated) New Year!

In solidarity,

GlobeMed at Columbia

HIV+ Mothers conducting their weekly VSLA Session
HIV+ Mothers conducting their weekly VSLA Session
Oct 8, 2014

A Strengthened Focus on Gender-Based Violence

A community woman receives counseling from GWED-G
A community woman receives counseling from GWED-G

Since our last project report in July, GlobeMed at Columbia and GWED-G have begun implementing the new phases of our project aimed at promoting gender equality and HIV prevention in Gulu, Uganda. While our overall objectives do remain the same as before, we are hoping to expand some of our current strategies and would therefore like to take this opportunity to remind our donors of these objectives and how we hope to achieve them. Through our collaboration with GWED-G, we aim to increase the Ugandan community’s knowledge on how to prevent HIV/AIDs transmission; we aim to strengthen community health networks through capacity building and training programs; and we aim to promote maternal and newborn health.  Currently, Uganda suffers from one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world. Moreover, 20.4% of the disease burden is felt by Ugandan women and children. Considering that only 26% of women have access to post-natal delivery, only 11.7% of women deliver in fully functional emergency care facilities, and the physician-to-population ratio is 1:10,000, this statistic is not surprising. Due to the prevalence of HIV infection in Uganda and the disproportionate burden faced by its women and children, powerful advocacy and prevention efforts are required. Our aim is to strengthen our partnership with GWED-G over the next year and work collaboratively and rigorously with them to implement our project strategies within the Ugandan community. Our hopes for the community are ambitious, but we are confident that we can affect change in the right direction with your generosity and support.

A particular strategy to promote maternal health that we would like to expand upon in the coming months is the focus on eliminating gender-based violence. The story of Aida brings to light the reason for this decision. Soon after her first meeting with her husband, Aida asked him to use protection during sexual activity. Upon hearing her request, he engaged in violence, threatened her, and did not agree to use protection. Over the years, each time she became pregnant, he forced her to give birth at home and threatened to kick her out of her home if she tried to go to a healthcare facility. When GWED-G health staff came to Aida’s home and tested her for HIV, she learned that she was HIV-positive. GWED-G was able to convince her to bring two of her children, who were often falling sick, to a community health center to get tested for HIV, as well. Aida learned that both of her children were HIV-positive, and when she returned home and shared this with her husband, he beat her and kicked her out of the house. When GWED-G found Aida after this event, she was hopeless and in despair, planning to commit suicide.  However, while Aida’s story thus far is extremely painful, GWED-G was able to help turn Aida’s life around.

GWED-G offered Aida counseling and assistance from the Village Health Team, and she became apart of regular GWED-G meetings, where she interacted with other women in the community. Aida is now a leader for some of GWED-G’s maternal health groups, such as the group of women who benefited from mama kits and those who benefited from income-generating projects, such as the provision of seeds. Aida’s story teaches us how male violence can traumatize the lives of women in Gulu. Aida, as a target of gender-based violence, not only acquired HIV, but was prevented from seeking any sort of medical care and was emotionally stigmatized throughout the course of her illness. Through GWED-G’s interventions, Aida was able to seek the resources and support she needed to once again live her life. Her story is a testament to the importance and expansion of projects aimed at reducing gender-based violence in Gulu.

GlobeMed at Columbia, in partnership with GWED-G, is therefore hoping to increase the involvement of males in the community in our programs. We have seen the success of Male Role Model groups in other GWED-G projects, whose members frequently stage dramas for their community in order to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and provide examples for other men on how to properly treat women with the disease. For Phase V of our project, we are looking to implement a similar Male Role Models group within Coke and Agwayugi parishes, to increase male involvement in the promotion of women’s rights and community health. We hope that Aida’s story was as moving for you as it was for us. We appreciate your support as we try to extend the reach of our project to more victims of gender-based violence in Uganda.

GROW Team members talk with a male role model
GROW Team members talk with a male role model

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