IT focus as HHS secretary heads to Africa

By Bernie Monegain
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON – HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt arrived in Africa last Friday, in part to observe how U.S. funding is working in the fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria. Several of the U.S. government projects include an information technology component.

Leavitt is traveling with a group of senior government leaders. He will visit four African nations and meet with top host-country government officials over the 10-day trip. The group will visit multiple sites that are providing healthcare and basic social services in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

The itinerary will include visits to communities that are receiving funding through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  

The programs Leavitt will observe are:

in Rwanda - Post-genocide investments to reconstruct the healthcare system and use information technology to improve healthcare in both urban and rural settings.

In South Africa  - The integration of biomedical research with on-going HIV-prevention, care and treatment programs that are serving the community via interagency collaboration.

• In Mozambique - U.S. government programs that are working to bring care to people affected by severe poverty and inadequate infrastructure, as well as future investments of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

• In Tanzania - U.S. government strategies in action to improve the training of current health workers, expand the available health workforce, and engage communities in the delivery of healthcare, including participating in a campaign to spray houses against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The group will spend one day in the capital city of each country , to meet with government and civil-society leaders, including from faith-based organizations, and will then travel to a rural area to spend time with families in smaller communities. Among the sites will be urban hospitals, rural health clinics, home-based-care settings, programs for orphans and academic institutions.

The visit comes on the heels of President Bush's call to Congress to support his efforts to double the initial funding of the Emergency Plan as it begins to consider reauthorization of that
program this fall.