Disease Prevention

Disease Prevention

 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ~ Benjamin Franklin

 

In no place do those words ring more true than in many of our world’s poorest communities.  At epidemic levels, in some cases, people are facing and dying from diseases that haven’t been seen for decades in more developed countries.

PCI’s contributions to disease prevention worldwide are massive, comprehensive, and ever evolving. PCI workers recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to prevention of disease.  A successful approach must be community centered with an initial focus on identifying risk factors of the region affected and, of course, the specific disease at hand. This unique, person-centered model of disease prevention, control, and treatment is a major strength of PCI’s involvement in the most at-risk communities.

What is disease prevention? With so many types and causes of illness, how can such a task be defined? To illustrate the efforts involved, this article will zero in on just a few of the many diseases being prevented and controlled by PCI workers worldwide.

Polio Prevention

With the help of dedicated PCI workers, India has experienced incredible successes in the past several years in its battle against polio.  In most of the world, polio hardly exists as a threat to physical health.  But in some areas, it is a completely different story. One such place is the Moradabad district outside Delhi, which has been called the global epicenter of polio. However, with current and effective disease prevention measures in place, this will no longer be true. PCI’s goal, through its involvement with the Core Group Polio Project (CGPP), is no new cases of polio – up to 2014 and beyond. The goal is eradication of this disease.

Since 2002, the CGPP has achieved significant success toward this goal. Consistent efforts by PCI workers – which entail immunizing children, engaging communities, advocating awareness, improving surveillance, and overcoming resistance to participation on the part of Muslim families – has resulted in tremendous achievements, including no new polio cases in over a year in some of the previously most at risk areas.

TB Treatment and Prevention

The prevalence of tuberculosis (TB) cases in some countries is especially upsetting because TB is curable.  Its spread is preventable. Nevertheless, in the not too distant past, approximately 1.5 million men, women, and children worldwide have died annually from TB.

In far too many cases, the problem was that people did not have access to proper medication, or did not take the medication properly. Through its SOLUCION TB, PCI assisted in Mexican efforts to significantly reduce the number of people who die of tuberculosis, and increase the number of those struck by the illness to be fully cured.

Through its hands on approach to disease control and prevention, PCI – in partnership with the National TB Program in Mexico – worked with the government health clinics that offered diagnostic services and medication. Multi-faceted support is needed during the course of treatment for an individual to best guarantee a cure of TB. PCI workers provided just that. They trained community health volunteers to make home visits, observed patients’ intake of medicine, and encouraged those with the disease to remain vigilant in their treatment.  As a direct result of PCI’s involvement to prevent, treat and cure TB in 13 high risk identified Mexican states, tuberculosis cure rates increased to an average of 90.7 %.

HIV/AIDS

Significant progress has been made in HIV prevention efforts. PCI has been at the forefront of global organizations dedicated to decreasing the number of deaths due to HIV related illnesses, and especially reducing the number of new cases. The numbers reveal the strength of progress. Worldwide, the number of adults and children acquiring HIV in 2011 was a full 20% lower than in 2001.

Such evidence of success has encouraged PCI workers to step up efforts in HIV/AIDS treatment, and especially prevention, with the theme for 2011 through 2015 – Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination. Zero AIDS Related Deaths.

PCI focuses on a holistic approach, assisting those most at risk through community based interventions that are multi-faceted and comprehensive. These interventions include: home-based care and outreach, antiretroviral therapy, access to nutritional food, economic empowerment activities, and support groups, including those for caregivers and orphans.

Sadly, in South Africa, violence against women has become a prevalent and devastating contributor to the increased risk for female HIV infection. PCI’s program, Prevention in Action, seeks to create and sustain a shift in response to violence against women. In 2012, the project focused on promoting actions to stop violence against women; none more powerful than empowering the communities themselves. In ZwaZulu-Natal, as well as local communities in the Western Cape, Prevention in Action crews filmed over 100 authentic stories of actions taken to prevent violence against women. These videos were shared with the communities as a part of PCI’s tireless efforts – through Prevention in Action – to help establish Violence Free Zones that are community owned and led.

Based upon the evidence thus far, PCI and its partners believe that this new social norm, an active intolerance for violence against women, will lead to declines in attacks, and thus a reduction of new HIV infections for female members of these communities.

Read more stories about Disease Prevention


 

With A Little Help From My Friends, Improving TB Prevention and Control

With A Little Help From My Friends, Improving TB Prevention and Control

In 1953, Richard Starkey contracted a disease that put him in a sanatorium for two years. During his second year there, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Richard was lucky to have had access to health care services, to be in an environment where he not only received medical care, but […]

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Isaac Lengwe: A Story of Survival and Success

Isaac Lengwe: A Story of Survival and Success

PCI’s Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Program Zambia, Africa – It was New Year’s Day, 2005. All around her, people were celebrating the beginning of a new year. But not Edith Lengwe. “I looked at my child and could not stop crying. Who was going to take care of me […]

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PCI’s Progress in the Fight Against Disease: From Stigma and Shame to Prevention and Treatment

When Ryan White first was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the mid 1980’s, it was a confusing and tragic event. How could a child have HIV/AIDS? To most people, this reality made absolutely no sense. There was a stigma surrounding the disease that made most people talk about it in hushed […]

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World AIDS Day 2013

World AIDS Day 2013

30 Years Later, Working Harder Than Ever For a World without HIV/AIDS Globally, 35.3 million people are living with HIV, 70% of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the decades-long efforts by millions of dollars and people dedicated to finding a cure for AIDS, prevention remains the most effective defense […]

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Turning the Tide Against Tuberculosis in Mexico

Turning the Tide Against Tuberculosis in Mexico

Globally, one third of the world’s population is infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Each year, over nine million people develop an active form of the respiratory disease, which is highly contagious and can be fatal. Even though the disease is curable and its spread is preventable, approximately […]

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Making Polio History

Making Polio History

PCI’s Programs in India Contribute to Global Efforts to Eradicate the Disease In the global fight against infectious disease, victories of every size deserve to be celebrated. Any increase in vaccinations and decrease in the number of new cases bring us one step closer to eradication. PCI has made strong […]

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Indian Community Celebrates Milestone in Fight Against Polio

Indian Community Celebrates Milestone in Fight Against Polio

On February 23rd, 2013, the world’s first Polio Chowk was unveiled in Moradabad, India. Moradabad District outside Delhi has been called the epicenter of polio globally and this Polio Chowk will serve as a visual reminder of the progress in the fight against polio in Moradabad and around the world. […]

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Transformation of a Health Care System

Transformation of a Health Care System

Through its SOLUCION TB program, which ended in 2012, PCI helped transform Mexican efforts to reduce the number of people who die of tuberculosis and significantly increase the number of people who are fully cured. In partnership with the Mexican TB Control Program, PCI has built a reputation for having […]

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World AIDS Day 2012: A Closer Look at PCI’s HIV Programs

Since the introduction of HIV/AIDS to the present day, significant progress has been made in HIV prevention efforts, and in the care and treatment of those living with HIV/AIDS.  HIV is no longer a death sentence as more people are living healthy and productive lives with the virus. The scaling up […]

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World AIDS Day 2012: “Getting to Zero”

World AIDS Day 2012: “Getting to Zero”

Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS-Related Deaths From the first reported cases of HIV/AIDS to the present day, significant progress has been made in HIV prevention efforts, and in the care and treatment of those living with HIV/AIDS.  HIV is no longer a death sentence as more people […]

Read more ›

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