The article “Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative Expands It Reach – Update” was published by the Alliance for Case Studies for Global Health on May 4, 2012 as an update of an earlier article “Growing Network Extends HIV Treatment to Children in Developing Countries” published on October 30, 2009. The articles look at Dr. Mark Kline’s journey and impact after discovering pediatric HIV treatment at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. This included his founding of Baylor Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI).
Global health issues
The article addresses healthcare for poor and neglected children in the society, specifically those suffering from HIV and AIDS. The initiative started off by mobilizing public and private donors in the USA to help alleviate a HIV epidemic among children raised in Romanian orphanages. The program had expanded such that as of 2012 BIPAI offered world class healthcare in nine countries.
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Another global health issue addressed by BIPAI is capacity building of healthcare systems in developing countries. Not only does the initiative train and employ personnel in HIV and AIDS healthcare, it also collaborates with governments to develop suitable policies for healthcare in the respective countries. This includes in supply chain management, funding and curricula development.
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BIPAI also is a global model for serving patient populations experiencing chronic and other diseases in impoverished communities. Already Texas Children’s Hospital has started a Center for Global Health whose first initiative was screening and treatment of sickle cell disease among Angolan children. As noted by Russell Ware, the head of the center, “BIPAI was a prototype”. Baylor has twelve similar global health initiatives. Other organizations have started similar programs in Africa, Caribbean and South America.
Population and intervention impact
Pediatric care for HIV and AIDS patients was developed in collaboration with Texas Children’s Hospital. The program hence benefited not only the Texas community but the entire United States.
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Expansion of the program saw Dr. Mark Kline founding BIPAI in Constanta, Romania. This initiative initially targeted about 600 children suffering from HIV and AIDs from Romanian orphanages. BIPAI was able to reduce the death rate caused by the epidemic from 13% to 1%.
The program then targeted populations of infected and affected children from nine African countries. As of 2009, there were 30,000 patients in nine countries positively impacted by the initiative. These achievements are because of networking with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, donors and government agencies.
The initiative can aid eradication of the HIV and AIDS in the world by treating all the children in the world infected by the disease. This would however need follow up healthcare at adolescence and adulthood to ensure there is no regress of the gains achieved by the pediatric care. It would also require increased involvement by governments as well as public and private organizations.
One of the challenges of the BIPAI program is high demand for the HIV and AIDS healthcare services in the countries that BIPAI operates in. Hence the organization’s clinics are constantly overcrowded.
There is also a shortage of personnel trained in HIV and AIDS healthcare to be able to effectively serve at the many BIPAI clinics. This is exacerbated by the fact that funding programs to provide doctors and supplies have reduced. The situation can be overcome through local training and mentorship programs in the respective countries.
Communication among satellite BIPAI clinics in most countries is a challenge. This is especially with regard to management and administration as witnessed in the case of Maseru and other Lesotho clinics.
There is need to extend the services to various remote areas in a country so as to improve capacity and serve more patients. Such expansion has seen BIPAI offering healthcare to 47,000 Ugandans with HIV virus in 2011, with nearly half receiving anti-HIV medication.
It is important to collaborate with local government, public and private institutions. This ensures the initiative is able to impact on more lives through enabling policies and funding as regards such healthcare issues as training, staffing and healthcare development. This has been achieved in such countries as Ethiopia, Lesotho and Uganda with BIPAI supervising HIV care in 36 Ugandan districts via approval by the country’s Ministry of Health.
Technology can ease communication and information flow among BIPAI clinics. As fiber optic increasingly becomes ubiquitous throughout the world, BIPAI should be able to better network among its clinics, with patients and with suppliers. There is need for HIV and AIDS healthcare services for adolescents in many countries to complement clinics catering for children and adults. This will secure the gains made in combating the virus and disease, as an adolescent clinic in Botswana has proven.