NASTAD Haiti Participates in ‘Innovations in Global Maternal and Child Health’ Symposium at University of Florida

By Dr. Nadjy Joseph April 8, 2015

December 2015 will mark the end of the current United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.  Governments and civil society organizations are racing to continue to work towards fulfilling those goals, and are compiling reports and publications to demonstrate progress and gaps.

In this context, the University of Florida convened its first annual Innovations in Global Health Symposium, with this inaugural year focused on maternal and child health. The aim of the symposium was to convene leading experts alongside University of Florida faculty and students to learn and teach innovative initiatives in global maternal and child health. Many themes were discussed during the two-day symposium, including health systems and policy, human rights and health, technology and climate change, and food security and nutrition.

NASTAD Haiti was invited to submit a poster describing its work with the Haiti Ministry of Health (MoH) to develop and implement a system of enhanced perinatal HIV case-based surveillance and case management. This system aims to improve public health disease surveillance of HIV infections among mothers and infants, and to promote linkage and adherence to HIV care, treatment and prophylaxis. The system, named “SAFE” (Surveillance Active de la Femme Enceinte Seropositive), builds upon Haiti’s existing case-based surveillance system and case management resources and was implemented nationally in 2014. SAFE is currently in use at 143 of 145 PMTCT facilities across Haiti. The poster was developed and presented by Dr. Nadjy Joseph, the NASTAD Haiti PMTCT Surveillance Manager and Mark Griswold, NASTAD Global Senior Manager and Haiti Country Lead.

Preliminary SAFE data demonstrate that the system is functioning throughout Haiti to report data about the care, treatment and birth outcomes of pregnant women diagnosed with HIV.  Over 9,000 women have been followed through the system, with nearly 7,000 births tracked. As the system matures, the detailed case surveillance data offered through SAFE will be invaluable for planning and evaluation of prevention, treatment, and patient outreach and support programming, in line with the MoH’s goal to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Symposium attendees showed great interest in the project, and were impressed and surprised by the quality of the data collected during the initial year of SAFE implementation. There was much discussion about how these data will be used, and the potential impact of the project to both improve patient management practices and obtain vital information about care and treatment of this vulnerable population.

After the symposium, Nadjy and Mark provided a lecture about the project at a graduate-level health metrics class. In discussing this project with the students, many strong questions were generated about both the benefits and potential barriers to implementation of case-based surveillance in a resource constrained setting.

Nadjy and Mark came away from the experience with some new ideas as to how to address human resource constraints within the system and strengthen the sustainability of the system, as well as renewed motivation to continue implementation of this important project. They also had the chance to discover why Gainesville is called ‘ Gator City’—there were alligators everywhere at the University, although fortunately, most were only artistic renderings!

If you are interested in learning more about the work NASTAD Haiti is doing to strengthen and expand HIV and infectious disease surveillance, please contact Mark Griswold.

Visit nastad.org/global to learn more about NASTAD Global.