Friday, June 27, 2008
New Humanity participated in an AIDS workshop on June 11 sponsored by the Holy See Mission to the United Nations during the UN’s 2008 High Level Meeting on AIDS: Measuring Progress Since 2001. The theme of the Holy See sponsored workshop, Treating, Preventing, and Caring: Three approaches to addressing HIV and AIDS highlighted approaches employed by three non-governmental organizations, AVSI of Communion and Liberation, Matercare International, and New Humanity. More specifically, they spoke about PMTCT, Preventing Mother To Child Transmission of HIV/AIDS. Matercare International spoke more generally about women’s health. Over 100 people attended.
AVSI brought Dr. Filippo Ciantia from Uganda where AVSI supports PMTCT programs in 3 hospitals and 12 health centers. In Uganda, 1 million people live with AIDS including an estimated 25,000 children who contracted AIDS from their mothers. A third of adult deaths in Uganda result from AIDS and UNAIDS estimated in 2006 that Uganda had 1 million orphans in part due to AIDS. AVSI’s has a comprehensive program similar to New Humanity’s in many ways.
Dr. Rob Walley, founder of Matercare spoke about the relatively high incidence of maternal deaths in Africa from various causes. Although complications from abortions only account for an estimated 13% of deaths, he said that most funding from donor agencies for maternal health goes towards abortion rather than for improved obstetric care to benefit both mothers and children.
New Humanity presented its comprehensive program for PMTCT practiced at Mary Health of Africa hospital in Fontem Cameroon as an expression of the unity lived among the hospital staff, patients, and community. Drs. Flavia Caretta of Rome, Laura Falchi of Florence, and Laura Bazzini of Fontem prepared the talk on New Humanity’s PMTCT program for HIV positive mothers and their children. The program includes medicines for mothers before, during, and after birth, support groups to address the stigmatization and sense of isolation often experienced by AIDS patients, and joint community education programs. Newborn infants receive medication and testing. An on-going study at the hospital seems to be suggesting that HIV positive women who take medications during pregnancy and feed infant formula to their newborn children successfully prevent the passing of the HIV virus to their children. The support groups and hospital staff help to ensure the safe use of infant formula paid for in part by families who have immigrated from Fontem to the
Attendance at this side event was the highest we have ever had and many people expressed their appreciation. We hope to follow-up with a longer meeting to give others a chance to share their field experience as well.