Update from Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope

Update from Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope:

Sorry for the delay in updating news from Highlands Hope. A lot has been happening:

At TANWAT Company Hospital, the HIV clinic is closing in rapidly on its stage 1 goal of serving 300 patients with anti-retroviral drugs. Nurse Betty Liduke is now concentrating her efforts on the TANWAT HIV clinic as well as on her network of workplace and village-based peer educators. She also continues to mentor volunteer leaders in HIV patient groups across the Wabena territory.

Ikonda Hospital's programming is also growing at a rapid rate, now serving more than 2,500 HIV patients.

Madeleine Buck from McGill Nurses for Highlands Hope has dedicated her recently published textbook on basic nursing techniques to Highlands Hope colleagues and pledged a portion of her revenue from the book's sales to the work of HH.

St. George's School in Westmount continues its generous support for Highlands Hope health-related programming as well as sponsoring new links with the Kibena Women's Association to provide care to HIV orphans in Njombe. The teachers from St. George's have also started a professional link with elementary school teachers in Njombe focusing on second-language training. The work of these Tanzanian teachers includes tutoring of HIV orphans.

The Highlands Hope Nurse-Counselor Network is nearing the end of its first computer skills training course, supported in part by McGill Nurses for Highlands Hope. Ten nurse-counselors from the HIV programs at Ikonda Hospital, TANWAT, and PIUMA are completing the training. At the next meeting of Highlands Hope Tanzania in June, network Chair Betty Liduke will lead the members in a discussion of next steps in professional development for nurse-counselors as well as considering extending the benefits of networking to other staff in the clinics.

The HH patient activist group PIUMA has completely restructured its staffing and organization, concentrating on services to members including voluntary counseling and testing clinics, volunteer home-based care, and livelihood projects. It has also adopted an anti-corruption accountability code for its work, a first for a rural Tanzanian HIV NGO. PIUMA uncovered extensive local corruption in the fight against HIV in Makete District that brought it into conflict with a number of leaders. A delegation of PIUMA leaders went to Dar es Salaam in April and held a press conference demanding greater attention to inadequate HIV care in Makete. The organization's research suggests that more than 40 people have died in about a dozen PIUMA villages in the past year from AIDS.

PIUMA is completing an order for a custom-built mobile clinic that will allow it to extend its testing and follow-up services to the widely scattered villages of Makete District. Delivery is expected before the end of summer 2007. Several rooms in the PIUMA Centre in Bulongwa are also nearing completion. Wiring and plumbing remain to be done. District officials have given PIUMA their blessing to be more actively involved in HIV service provision and have granted permission to use a large municipal building in Bulongwa as a future clinic space.

In partnership with the Montreal design firm Origami, PIUMA recently completed an impressive brand identity process with a very strong new logo design. The logo will be applied to a line of PIUMA T-shirts and other promotional items. Origami owner and principal designer Michael Wou will be traveling this summer to Tanzania to discuss the extension of the brand into village-level brand tool kits and other innovative brand identity resources.

Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope is sponsoring an awareness and solidarity march with PIUMA in July 2007 in Makete District. Six Quebecers will be participating. Jim Hughes, member of the Board of Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope and one of this summer's hikers, held a fund-raising squash tournament recently and raised nearly $5,000 for HH programs.

HH friend and supporter Terry Mosher ("Aislin") has generously agreed to the use of drawings from his Tanzanian Sketchbook for Canadian Friends of Highlands Hope fundraising purposes. Signed prints of individual sketches will be available for $150. A webpage is being prepared that presents all the sketches with directions on how to order. 100% of the money will go to work with our Tanzanian Highlands Hope partners. A separate email will inform you when you can view the site.

McGill medical student Alexandra Orr and anatomy student Mary Sweeney will be working this summer with PIUMA in Bulongwa. They will be looking at efforts to build awareness about HIV with teenagers and young adults in Makete District with support from PIUMA nurse Mary Musoma and coordinator Jackson Mbogela and from TANWAT HIV Clinic director, Betty Liduke.

After a months-long investigation, an official Government of Tanzania report has revealed extensive corruption in the procurement of key technology required to provide high-quality HIV care. CD4 counters assess blood samples and track the health of the immune system. Highlands Hope is partnered with the German CD4 counter manufacturer Partec whose machines (some of which had been donated to HH partners) were banned by the Ministry of Health in 2006. That ban has now been shown to be groundless and likely the result of corrupt business practices on the part of competitors. The Partec counters continued to be used at TANWAT and Ikonda despite the ban, but two machines owned by PIUMA have been lying idle since PIUMA's lockout from the local clinic and the MoH decision about Partec machines. PIUMA will now integrate these counters into its mobile clinic and hopes to have dependable, mobile CD4 testing available to its members by the autumn of 2007.

May 12, 2007.