Posts Tagged 'U.S. Agency for International Development'

HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing in Militaries

On 4/15/2010 8:46:21 AM Danielle Skinner of the U.S. Africa Command public affairs office wrote:

The past week, April 12-15, while representing the U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Office at the 2010 International Military HIV/AIDS Conference, I learned a lot about the challenges facing militaries with regards to HIV/AIDS. Since I don’t have a medical background, a lot of the information was new to me. In listening to the presentations and talking with participants from all over the world (60 countries were represented), I gained a better understanding of how HIV/AIDS affects national security.

As several speakers reiterated throughout the week, a military with members who are sick and dying cannot as effectively protect its people, defend its borders, or participate in regional peacekeeping operations. Since military members are at higher risk for contracting the disease than the civilian population, implementing HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and treatment programs within militaries is critical.

The Tanzania People’s Defence Force is an example of a military that is proactive in its HIV/AIDS programs. While talking to an officer from the Tanzania People’s Defence Force, Colonel (Dr.) JW Bigambo, he shared a lot about what the TPDF is doing to combat the epidemic and emphasized the role of leadership in promoting counseling and testing. He said that it has to happen from the top down. Military commanders need to have open conversations encouraging their troops to get tested and know the status of each member of his or her unit. I was impressed to learn that Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (who also spoke at the conference) led by example and tested publicly for HIV/AIDS in 2007. Four million people followed his lead.

Having heard so much this week about counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, I decided to join a group going over to a local VCT (Voluntary Counseling and Testing) facility called Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre. The VCT center is part of the Selian AIDS Control Programme which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development through its PEPFAR program.

There are three VCT centers in Arusha. The one I visited was very small, but well-organized. I was impressed with the positive attitudes of all the staff members there, who welcomed us and described what they do on a daily basis. Judith, one of the counselors, said that on average they counsel and test approximately 50-60 clients per day, though that number can vary. Together, the three VCT centers in Arusha tested more than 20,000 clients in 2009, and of those, approximately 1,300 people were HIV positive. In addition to providing testing, they provide pre-counseling and post-counseling.

Judith also described some of the challenges they face, such as the increasing number of people living with HIV/AIDS (more than 5,000 within the Selian hospitals). Another challenge is that their patients don’t have enough food or basic necessities to stay healthy. She described the miserable conditions she sees regularly during home visits with many patients sleeping on dirt floors. Finally, she said there is still a lot of stigma associated with HIV/AIDS testing, and those who test positive face discrimination in the community.

In spite of their many setbacks, the staff members at Selian displayed very positive attitudes and seemed to promote a caring environment focused on making the testing and post-testing processes easier for their clients.

Today, April 15, is the last day of the conference, which will consist of more plenary sessions, discussions, and follow-up talks. From what I saw and comments I heard from other participants, the conference offered valuable opportunities to network with other international military leaders and health experts and to exchange information and best practices.
Read more about the International Military HIV/AIDS conference here:〈=0.

U.S. Africa Command Inspector General Conference

On 4/1/2010 1:20:31 PM Christine M. Byrne, chief of IG Outreach wrote:

Group photo of the IG Conference participants in front of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre

Group photo of the IG Conference participants in front of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana

Between 23 and 25 March 2010, U.S. Africa Command held its first Inspector General (IG) Conference at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana. The conference was hosted by the Command’s Inspector General, Colonel Ronald Baldinger, and the Commands Chief of IG Outreach, Christine Byrne, from the U.S. Agency for International Developments Office of Inspector General.

The stated conference goals were to:

  • Enhance the understanding of how Inspectors General serve as a sound construct for defense oversight and for strengthening confidence, morale and trust within a military service.
  • Develop a basic understanding of several functions of Inspectors General within a select number of countries and organizations.
  • Enhance the understanding of how corruption influences government’s ability to care for and protect its people, and how Inspectors General can assist in fighting corruption within the Military.
  • Develop a basic understanding of United States government ethics and standards of conduct required for its public servants and officials, and how these standards contribute to the above goals.

Conference participants included senior military leaders and inspectors general from 21 African nations located throughout the continent. Representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Army Africa, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and the Utah National Guard, as well as the principal deputy for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Inspector General, Ms. Lynne Halbrooks, provided presentations on the U.S. Inspector General system within the U.S. military and the Department of Defense.

Colonel Nicolas Casanova from the French Inspection Generale des Armees (IGA) spoke about the French Inspector General System. In addition, several thought-provoking presentations on the impact of corruption in Africa and anticorruption efforts being taken within the continent were provided by representatives from the African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption, the Anticorruption Commission of Sierra Leone, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Initial feedback from participants was extremely positive. In fact, several participants requested future conferences and training on the topic of Inspectors General to enhance and further develop the IG functions within their own country. The conference highlight was the closing address by the Commander of U.S. Africa Command, General William “Kip” Ward, who spoke to the great value of Inspectors General and his experiences with them throughout his career. IGs, in whatever function or capacity, have a great impact on the success of the organizations that they are associated with. I’ve always known this and am glad that it is being embraced more and more by our partners. After all, IGs really are here to help!!

Panel of speakers at the IG Conference

Panel of speakers at the IG Conference

General William E. Ward speaking at the IG conference

General William E. Ward speaking at the IG conference

Pandemic Influenza Workshop

On 3/8/2010 9:24:32 AM Colonel James Welton, U.S. Africa Command wrote:

Ian Clarke, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), talks to participants of a Pandemic Influenza Workshop held February 24-26, 2010, in Honolulu

Ian Clarke, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), talks to participants of a Pandemic Influenza Workshop held February 24-26, 2010, in Honolulu

U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Africa Command, and the Center of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE-DMHA) partnered with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Program (WFP) to host a Pandemic Influenza Workshop, from 24-26 February in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The workshop included civilian and military participants from 10 Asian and 7 African countries, and the United States and Australia, to collaborate on identifying generic civil-military tasks in response to a pandemic and to produce a generic civil-military coordination planning annex for civilian agencies and military planners to use as a reference in developing their own pandemic and disaster response plans.

Each country brought unique insights from varying government structures and ministerial organizations. The workshop organized into six functional groups to review and produce a task list for a plans annex on how a nation’s military could support civilian agencies in the areas of medical support; transportation and logistics; humanitarian assistance; critical infrastructure support; community interface to include special needs populations, agriculture, food security, and mortuary affairs; and stability and security operations.

The goal of civil-military coordination is to create a unified agreed upon framework for planning, implementing, and evaluating response efforts to a pandemic, or other large scale disasters. Civil-military planning and exercising at the national, province, and district levels will enable all parties to walk through their respective roles and functional responsibilities in accordance with national-level disaster response plans.

The African countries that participated in the workshop were Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The Asian countries at the workshop included Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. U.S. Africa Command participants were Col Welton, Deputy Director for Programs; Mr. Eric Threet, Pandemic Response Program Manager; Maj Palmer, Operations and Logistics, Medical Division; Maj Gotlewski, Humanitarian and Health Activities Branch; SGM Bispo, Senior Enlisted Leader for Strategy, Plans, and Programs; SFC Fuentes, Outreach Directorate; U.S. Africa Command Liaison to US Agency for International Development, LTC Nancy Jean-Louis; US Africa Command Washington Liaison Office, Ms. Cheryl Barnett; and Maj Rob Holmes, USAF Infectious Disease Specialist, Keesler AFB, MS.

Ten Asian and 7 African countries, the United States and Australia gather in Honolulu February 24-26, 2010, for a Pandemic Influenza Workshop

Ten Asian and 7 African countries, the United States and Australia gather in Honolulu February 24-26, 2010, for a Pandemic Influenza Workshop

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