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 Mozambique and Nigeria. 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 communities’ well being. Funded by the CDC through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), FGH has provided HIV-related care to over 45,000 individuals, approximately 9,000 of whom have initiated antiretroviral therapy.
Along with the Mozambican and Nigerian Ministries of Health, FGH provides HIV-related services, including adult and pediatric HIV care and treatment services, Prevention of Mother- to-Child Transmission (PMTCT), counseling and testing (HCT), and testing/treatment for tuberculosis and other opportunistic infections. FGH focuses specifically on rural areas where limited human resources, poor health care coverage, lack of opportunities and infrastructure for economic development, and vulnerability to food insecurity provide many challenges.
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.
In Mozambique, Vanderbilt/FGH is the lead PEPFAR partner, working in health facilities throughout 12 districts of Zambézia, the country’s second most populous province with an HIV prevalence estimated at nearly 20%. In Nigeria, a country with the third largest burden of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, FGH provides care and treatment services to selected sites within Niger and Kwara States.
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.