Friends in Global Health (FGH)
Health Development and HIV Care and Treatment Services
Friends in Global Health (FGH) is an affiliate organization of Vanderbilt University currently operating in rural Mozambique. Working in partnership with local government and civil sector organizations, FGH aims to implement health development programs using sustainable strategies with the long-term goal of improving community well-being.
In collaboration with the Mozambican Ministry of Health, FGH has provided HIV-related care to over 44,000 individuals, approximately 18,500 of whom have initiated antiretroviral therapy. The organization provides technical assistance to support the Ministry of Health in the implementation of adult and pediatric HIV/AIDS care and treatment, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, counseling and testing services, tuberculosis program services and HIV-exposed child services in 10 rural districts within Zambézia Province. This support is provided through the Avante Zambézia project, which is a5-year program funded through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) via the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). FGH has been a PEPFAR implementing partner, supporting HIV care and treatment services in Zambézia province, since 2006.
Additional funding support includes US Agency for International Development (USAID) funding focused on a consortium grant in which FGH is a partner serving as the Monitoring and Evaluation lead; CDC funding to support positive prevention, in which FGH is a partner, and internal Vanderbilt University funding to support collaboration between traditional healers and health facilities as well as to support small income generation projects.
Friends in Global Health focuses specifically on rural areas where limited human resources, poor health care coverage, lack of opportunities, weak infrastructure for economic development and vulnerability to food insecurity provide many additional challenges for program implementation. By employing an integrated and holistic health system strengthening approach, FGH organizes activities around two core principles: 1) directing technical assistance to government health facilities to implement integrated HIV clinical services at the provincial/state level, and 2) developing human capacity.
FGH formally commenced operations in Nigeria in early 2009. In addition to care and treatment of HIV-infected persons, services provided by FGH include HIV counseling and testing (HCT), prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT), home-based care and support (HBC), and adherence counseling and services for patients co-infected with HIV and tuberculosis.
FGH currently has five comprehensive sites located in Gawu Babangida Rural Hospital; Lafiagi General Hospital; Sobi Specialist Hospital; Umaru Musa Yar’adua Memorial Hospital Sabon Wuse; and Kuta Rural Hospital. FGH also has 8 satellite sites, 3 in Kwara State and 5 in Niger State. The FGH headquarters is located in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital. FGH in-country operations are carried out by over 20 FGH staff based in Abuja and Ilorin. Dr. Muktar Aliyu, Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, FGH Country Director (Nigeria) provides administrative and operational oversight for the project, with the assistance of Nashville-based IGH staff.
FGH has conducted extensive renovations in all clinical sites, including repairing water supply systems, installing power generating sets, equipping clinic laboratories and furnishing HIV clinics to international standards. In the 2009 fiscal year, FGH also contributed to local human capacity-building by training 209 Nigerian physicians, nurses, counselors and allied health staff in HIV counseling and testing, basic care and support, adult/pediatric care and treatment, adherence, prevention of mother to child transmission, home-based care and laboratory management. Provision of quality HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment services is at the forefront of FGH’s work in Nigeria. As of July 31, 2010, FGH staff had counseled and tested 12,658 clients in our HCT centers and 6,419 pregnant women in our PMTCT program.
During the 2009 fiscal year, FGH also established family-centered, facility- and community-based services targeting orphans and vulnerable children in Kwara state through partnership with a local community-based organization, the Society for Youth Development and Orphaned Children (SYDOC). This alliance highlights the priority FGH attaches to cultivating strong collaborative relationships with local groups involved with development work, as such partnerships enhance the capacity of local organizations to build sustainable, high-impact public health initiatives.
Immediate future plans include: consolidating on progress achieved by strengthening referral systems that link clients who test positive during HCT to care and treatment centers and permit tracking of individuals who default from care; increasing sensitization activities in communities with high-risk, HIV-infected clients who are not accessing care and treatment; and integrating innovative approaches to reducing loss to follow up, such as employing point-of-care CD4 devices at PMTCT centers that are not co-located with HIV care and treatment centers.