In the initial phase of the COVID-19 epidemic, when many people complained of troubling symptoms long after infection, scientists, healthcare providers, even family and friends did not believe them. Gradually skepticism gave way not only to global credence but investing millions to support research on the long-term effects of COVID-19.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 is “End inequalities. End AIDS.” The tagline recognizes the growing disproportion in access to essential HIV services. Tragically, populations in Africa are most severely affected, where nearly one in every 25 adults lives with HIV, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the people living with HIV worldwide.
This year underserved communities again face greater risk for HIV infection and AIDS-related deaths as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, treatment and care services. Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that HIV infection increases the risk of severe and critical COVID-19.
Winter brings seasonal increases in strep throat, a bacterial infection which if not treated with an antibiotic can lead to rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease (RHD) and even death.
Although RHD is completely preventable, it affects 39 million people worldwide, many of them children in low-resource countries.
WiRED International has long targeted RHD. Nearly a decade ago, we started to develop a suite of programs designed to educate and curb the spread of the infection.
What is long-haul COVID-19?
Long-haul COVID-19 — Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection — occurs when patients who have been infected with the virus experience new, recurring or ongoing symptoms four or more weeks after infection, sometimes after initial symptom recovery. These post-virus conditions constitute a lack of return to a usual state of health after the COVID-19 illness. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety and depression. They can persist for months and range from mild to incapacitating. In some cases, new symptoms arise well after the time of infection or evolve over time.
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to Kisumu, Kenya, is placing a heavy burden on a population already suffering routinely from disease and lack of basic health care. If that weren’t enough, since early 2020, East Africa has experienced unprecedented waves of locust swarms — a crisis linked to climate change — which has destroyed livestock and crops and threatens to worsen food scarcity.
The New York Times reports that while the COVID-19 pandemic is lessening in many of the countries hit early in 2020, new hot spots in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East are causing a record rise in the number of first-time cases of the virus.
Despite early action by the Peruvian government, COVID-19 continues to devastate the nation. Once in Lima, the virus rapidly spread to the city of Iquitos and from that gateway to remote villages along the Amazon, an area where WiRED’s partner, Project Amazonas (PA), provides medical services. Working with PA, WiRED provides health education and other IT resources, including an electronic patient record system that runs entirely off the grid; patient data collected in remote regions can be uploaded to country-level data programs for aggregation and analysis.
It’s World Immunization Week. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that even before COVID-19 emerged, millions of people — particularly children- across the globe were left unprotected against preventable diseases. Today, the turmoil stirred by the coronavirus pandemic is creating a health crisis more catastrophic than COVID-19 itself.
“The coronavirus has crushed healthcare systems around the world. And it’s especially cruel in the poorest regions, where there are fewer than one doctor for 20,000 people. In these places, officials are calling on community health workers to help the sick and teach people how to avoid contracting the virus…”
These opening words of WiRED International’s just released video go on to tell the story of WiRED’S Community Health Worker (CHW) Training Program. The program includes health communication, community health instruction, health surveillance and continuing education. This video showcases photos taken all over the world in the low-resource communities where WiRED has distributed its free health training material for almost 25 years.
Today COVID-19 dominates the world health stage, but equally deadly neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than one billion people in many countries where WiRED International distributes its health training material.