Saturday, October 23, 2010

Democracy Video Challenge Winner from Ethiopia

Democracy is important for health equity. Telling this truth requires creativity. The U.S. State Dept had their second annual Democracy Video challenge and one of the winners was Yared Shumete. Check out Yared Shumete's response to the challenge "democracy is..."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Team Afrika hits Washington D.C.

This past weekend was the AIDS Walk in D.C. and TruthAIDS was kindly invited to kick of a Truth Circle with Team Afrika courtesy of Frank Minja and Asteria Hyera. Check out their thoughts below on the event and the walk. These people are connecting dots and mobilizing participation.

Good People -

One in 20 adults living in Washington DC has HIV (most are people of
African descent)

More than 25,000,000 people are living with HIV in Africa

Thanks to everyone for a successful experiment in sharing, reflecting
and acting on the above facts.

10/2 Truth Circle at Safari DC -
We could not have planned this any better. It just so happened that
African Studies students at Howard University were also gathering at
Safari DC following their panel discussion on Africom - and so we
joined forces and had a wonderful animated discussion w 30+ young
people! Dr. Mehret navigated the crowd through many
pertinent topics including HIV testing and counseling (mostly lack
thereof), domestic violence, sex education, ABC policy, condom use,
teenage pregnancy and mental health. It was an inter-generational night of Diasporic conversations in Washington, D.C.

10/3 AIDS Walk Washington DC - Viva Afrika!
The weather was a gorgeous 75 degrees, even though the forecast had
predicted 20% chance of morning showers! The theme for Team Afrika was
generation next, with one third of our 20 walkers being under 5! It
was a lovely family walk with Eritrea, Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda
and America represented. Shout out to Siaya for running the 5K under
20 min (go Kenya!) leaving plenty of time to join us for the leisurely
walk! Speaking of generation next, below is a peek at why you should
all plan to walk with us next year (early October 2010). Please mark
your calendars ..

Aluta Continua! Viva Afrika!

Asteria Hyera & Frank Minja
Co-Captains Team Afrika

Friday, July 24, 2009

TruthAIDS Ethiopia

Check out the first entry from the TruthAIDS Ambassador to Ethiopia who functions as our project officer!

TruthAIDS was invited to participate in a two day national conference in Addis Abeba to discuss the staggering problem on child abuse, rape, molestation and the courts bail system. I was among judges, police commissioners, lawyers, and city and regional representatives of the lower and higher circuit courts in the country. The conference was led by African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) who commissioned its legal arm, Children Legal Protection Center (CLPC) to do a study on the legal procedure on crimes committed against children. The center's finding were shocking, to put it in milder terms. The study, that surveyed court cases in four regions, showed that 2 out of 3 sexual crimes committed against children never get solved. The survey indicates, though not the main reason, the lack of integration between the police and the courts as one of the reasons for these cases not to be solved. The majority of unsolved cases in the regions surveyed are due to bail. The criminals simply disappear after posting bail. The center also pointed out lack of evidence as the other reason for cases to go unsolved.

Though the government's and court's efforts to protect children are commendable, the task ahead is clearly daunting. Tougher laws must be placed and every criminal should be punished up to the maximum penalty that the law permits. I am hopeful that the courts decision to deny bail based on the severity of the crimes and to treat each case individually will curb the outrageous stats presented by the center. It was also satisfying to hear rape against minors carries a minimum 15 years prison term.

Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
truthAIDS Ambassador to Ethiopia

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Remembering Thembi Ngubane

Thembi Ngubane was a brave 24 year-old HIV positive young South African woman who passed away last week. She recorded an AIDS diary in 2006 that was broadcast by NPR to over 50 million listeners in the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K. and her native South Africa. The themes she touched on in the diary are about profoundly common human experiences. "She was smart and perceptive and self-reflective in a way that many people aren't," says Mr. Richman, who won an Overseas Press Club Award for the broadcast. Her story galvanized many to act in the service of others in South Africa and around the world. She is a great example of how one person's story can inspire others to serve. For more about her, please check out the WSJ article "Young South African Women's AIDS Diary Touched Millions of Listeners", 6/13/09.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Health and Human Rights

Come learn about health and human rights this Friday, June 5, 2009 at the First South Los Angeles Health and Human Rights conference. TruthAIDS will be presenting on the housing and health panel.

Check out the website for details:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Zip Code Matters More for Health Than Genetic Code

There was great article posted last week from the Senior Vice President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the importance of place and context in the health. TruthAIDS supporters you know the story but just in case you missed this article. Check it out below:

Why Your ZIP Code May Be More Important to Your Health Than Your Genetic Code
This commentary by James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., originally appeared April 23, 2009, on The Huffington Post.

How you see a problem drives how you create the solution.

We are not a healthy country. And while health reform focuses on coverage, cost, access and care, this is simply triage to a system that fails to ask the question "Why aren't we healthier in the first place?" Our health reform debate is focusing on where health ends (with medical care) and not on where our health begins (where we live, learn, work and play).

This month, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America released a report about all of those other things. This report comes out of a bi-partisan commission created to look at the factors that affect Americans' health in our homes, our work environments, and our communities. In wonky terms, we call these factors "social determinants of health." In plain English, the Commission's purpose was to look for ways beyond medical care that could improve our health.

What do we mean by "beyond medical care?" There is a ton of evidence that shows where and how people live, learn, work and play has a tremendous impact on our health. And while this link may seem intuitive to most, the extent of the relationship is not reflected in either the way we consider our own health or the way we go about creating solutions to make us a healthier nation as a whole.

Let us consider just a few facts:

Evidence now suggests that medical care accounts for only 10 to 15 percent of preventable early deaths.
Some Americans will die 20 years earlier than others who live just a few miles away because of differences in education, income, race, ethnicity and where and how they live.
College graduates can expect to live five years longer than those who do not complete high school.
Middle-income people can expect to live shorter lives than higher income people, even if they are insured.
And people who are poor are three times more like to suffer physical limitations from a chronic illness.

In other words, as it relates to our health, our ZIP code may be more important than our genetic code, our school files may be more telling than our medical files, the time spent in our office at work may be more relevant than the time spent at our doctor's office and the places we play may be more crucial than those where we get treated.

Even when we do consider these social factors, we too often place an unfair burden on personal responsibility and ignore the obstacles that stand in the way for some to make healthier choices. Consider that Detroit, an area of 139 square miles and over 900,000 citizens has just five grocery stores. An apple a day may help keep the doctor away but that assumes you can find an apple in your neighborhood.

As we begin to explore new ways to improve this country's health, we should look for inspiration from innovative programs around the country that are finding sensible, sustainable solutions at the intersection of health and daily life.

Take for example a program like Bonnie CLAC (Car Loans and Counseling), which is built on the premise that how you get around affects your ability to live a healthier lifestyle. Reliable transportation can mean the difference between keeping and losing your job, being able to take your kids to the doctor and make it to a grocery store that sells healthier food. Bonnie CLAC is helping the working poor purchase fuel-efficient cars at great prices and low interest rates, while providing them with crucial financial counseling. This counseling not only helps them make the payments but also show how changes, like quitting smoking, can help their financial bottom line and be good for their health. If only our banks had taken a similarly responsible approach to home lending, we could have avoided the sub-prime mess that has had a devastating domino effect in creating more Americans who are vulnerable to financial difficulties and subsequent poor health.

As we consider health reform in 2009, let's think about the neighborhoods and towns in which we all live, and ask ourselves: What are the barriers standing in the way to better health and how can health reform change the places we spend our lives to make them healthier places in which to live?

Take a look around you and ask yourself "where does health really start?" Is it in the hospital or the home? Is it with insurance company or your employer? Is it with an ambulance driver or an urban planner?

Only when we answer these questions honestly and see our health problems more clearly in this broader context, will we begin the real work to create and invest in solutions that help us all live as long and as healthy as we can.

James Marks, M.D., M.P.H., is currently the senior vice president, director of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is former assistant surgeon general, director of the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.