The goal was to provide Kenyan residents with the chance to fight HIV/AIDS and to fight against the social stigma that comes along with being diagnosed, said Ryan Piurek, IU news and media director.
By 2001, the universities created the Academic Model Providing Access to Health, one of the largest and most comprehensive academic centers for the treatment of AIDS in the world, said Piurek in his blog about AMPATH.
The program serves a population of 3.5 million people throughout western Kenya and has enrolled more than 160,000 HIV-positive people, Piurek said.
McRobbie is the first sitting president of IU to visit Africa since the start of the program.
“President McRobbie remarked that it was one thing to read and hear about all of the awe-inspiring work being done at AMPATH, but that until you see it for yourself, see it up close, you can’t truly understand the incredible impact AMPATH has had in Kenya,” Piurek said.
The program and those involved have a philosophy of “Leading with Care.” AMPATH expands beyond the face of HIV/AIDS, Piurek said, and tries to tackle critical problems such as income security and access to food.
AMPATH recognizes these issues are intertwined, said Robert Einterz, director of the IU Center for Global Health.
“Unemployment and poverty are huge problems in Kenya, as well as issues of gender inequality, so we have had to take on all of these issues,” Einterz said. “One has to address issues of food and income
Einterz was involved early on in the creation of the program and is still heavily involved in the partnership.
To help fix these communities means to help address the social aspects, Einterz said.
“The stigma associated with the disease is also changing, so that is less of a challenge but still a present challenge,” Einterz said.
AMPATH has determined that the severity of of non-communicable chronic diseases, such as hypertension, cancer and heart disease in sub-Saharan Africa, necessitates the expansion of the program. They are creating a new building specifically for the treatment of these diseases.
The construction of a Chronic Disease Building is expected to be completed by 2015. The building will be partially solar-paneled and will be equipped with outpatient clinics, research areas and seminar areas, Einterz said.
“It is very clear, looking forward, that these diseases are going to play a large role in the health of that community,” Einterz said. “This new building, in part, will help them do that.”
Einterz said the program hopes to develop models of health care that promote equity and accessibility to care.
“I think that these are models of care and care delivery that are applicable beyond the borders of Kenya,” Einterz said.
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