November 1, 2011 - Good news has just come in from Mutoko District of Zimbabwe, where an Upenyu team has finished two weeks of follow-up testing: Schistosomiasis infection rates have dropped from 38% to 1.8%. Soil-transmitted helminth infection rates have dropped from 40% to 0%.
The Upenyu team, consisting of the six Upenyu staff on location and six Zimbabwean lab scientists, returned to the schools that were treated in April, 2011, to determine the effect of the treatment. During the days, samples were collected from 500 children, representing the 5,000 who were treated; during the nights, the samples were analyzed by the skilled and tireless teams.
A huge array of data was collected, including information on nutritional status, anemia levels, and, of course, infection intensities for the following diseases: urinary schistosomiasis, intestinal schistosomiasis, ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm. In order to do this, blood samples, urine samples and stool samples had been collected from the 500 children.
These very positive results demonstrate the excellent infrastructure of Zimbabwe. They reflect the fact that Zimbabwe's strong school system and educated citizenship is receptive to public health programs, ensuring high adherence as long as the programs are responsibly enstated.
More importantly, the results highlight the need to expand treatment for these diseases to all of Zimbabwe. The rates are high, and this treatment method has officially been proven effective in the context of Zimbabwe.
In six months, the next round of follow-up testing will occur, to ensure that infection rates do not climb back to high levels twelve months after treatment.
September 25, 2011 - Upenyu welcomes its three new fellows to Zimbabwe!
Jessica Cheng is a Harvard University graduate, with a degree in molecular biology and health policy. In addition to presiding over several community health initiatives in the Boston area, Jessica has previously served in urban hospitals in Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Katie Frayler graduate of the University of North Carolina, with a degree in health policy. Several years down the road, Katie plans to go to Law School and perhaps become Upenyu's attorney general. In addition to working in North Carolina, she has field experience in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Cathy Vu is a Princeton University graduate, with a degree in molecular biology. Her research has focused on genetic analysis as it pertains to human disease. This is a burgeoning area of study with regards to schistosomiasis. In addition to working with the Red Cross, Cathy has field experience in La Paz, Bolivia.
December 6, 2010 - Upenyu is supporting a training on Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM). The training will occur at Nyadire Hospital, for nurses and healthcare workers, and will be run by Ministry of Health and Child Welfare workers. CMAM is a national program run by the National Nutrition Unit, but the national program relies in part on NGOs as implementing partners.
CMAM coverage around Zimbabwe is far from complete. In a recent visit to Nyadire Hospital, Ancikaria Chigumira, National Nutrition Unit Director, and Fitsum Assefah, head of the nutrition department at UNICEF, targeted the Mutoko District as high-priority for CMAM programming. Malnutrition rates are especially high in the catchment area of Nyadire Hospital, although reasons for this aberration are unknown. Dr. Kasombo Tshiani, medical superintendent of Nyadire Hospital, intends to study the root of the problem in coming years.
Currently, acute malnutrition is only treated in an inpatient setting in the Mutoko District. The purpose of CMAM is to decentralize treatment. Instead of therapeutically feeding patients admitted to a hospital, CMAM distributes therapeutic food to patients at satellite clinics near to patient homes, and the food is consumed at home. (To read more about CMAM, click here.)
The training will last five days, and involve 35 people associated with both Nyadire Hospital and Mutoko District Hospital. It will help establish the infrastructure of CMAM at Nyadire. Nurses and healthcare workers stationed at clinics are responsible for taking anthropomorphic measurements of patients and distributing therapeutic food (Plumpy'Nut, to be obtained by UNICEF) in the correct quantities. The Zimbabwean CMAM policy was cowritten by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare and UNICEF, and generally follows globally-accepted protocol.
December 2, 2010 - The first round for the Upenyu Health Fellowship closed yesterday at midnight. Thanks to all who submitted indications of interest. We look forward to getting to know you.
For those who are interested but did not yet submit an indication of interest, don't worry--the second round starts now and ends on December 22nd, 2010.