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Mandy Moore and Jennifer James See Tanzania's Health Workers in Action

Health workers at an outreach facility in rural Shinyanga, Tanzania, hosted two special guests on October 8: Mandy Moore—American singer/songwriter, actress, and PSI global ambassador—and Jennifer James—founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good and writer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Huffington Post.

As part of a partnership between IntraHealth International and PSI, Mandy Moore and Jennifer James visited health facilities in Tanzania to learn more about health workers, health systems, and the global health workforce shortage.

At an IntraHealth-run site in Shinyanga, Mandy and Jennifer saw firsthand the inner workings of a rural, mobile HIV facility, where HIV testing, counseling, and voluntary medical male circumcision take place.

During IntraHealth’s three-week campaigns when the site is up and running, health workers from clinics and hospitals across the region take time away from their regular duties to staff the outreach facility. Men and boys flock to them, standing in long lines or in groups in the shade as they wait for services.

Demand is so great in Shinyanga that every day ends with a waiting list.

First clients sit in groups of 25 or so to learn about voluntary medical male circumcision and its benefits—namely that the simple 15-minute procedure reduces men’s risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual intercourse by up to 60%. Counselors also explain that circumcision won’t fully protect them from HIV, and that they still must take other appropriate protective measures, such as using condoms.

Then, one by one, clients enter a small tent for individual HIV testing and counseling. Inside, a health worker takes down the client’s health history, conducts rapid testing that can reveal the client’s HIV status within minutes, and answers any questions he may have about the results.

Nearby, in a larger, air-conditioned tent, health workers perform voluntary medical male circumcision on four clients at a time, working quickly and efficiently. They carry out about 40-60 circumcisions per day.

But demand is so great in Shinyanga that every day ends with a waiting list of clients who must come back the following day. The HIV prevalence rate there is 7.4%—higher than the national rate of 5% among adults—and communities are eager for services that can help.

Mandy and Jennifer talked with clients and health workers, watched nurses and counselors at work, and even followed one client through the entire process of HIV testing, counseling, and voluntary medical male circumcision.

“I was passing nearby and heard there was a tent and asked what was being done,” said 24-year-old Amos Emmanuel Kakere. “I was anxious to get the service.” (Read more about Amos in Jennifer’s Huffington Post article.)

IntraHealth has provided voluntary medical male circumcisions to 315,904 men and boys in three regions of Tanzania. We’ve also helped provide HIV testing and counseling to more than 1.1 million Tanzanians and trained 3,000 health workers to provide HIV services.

During the same week, Mandy and Jennifer also visited PSI facilities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. There, they met frontline health workers, including family planning providers, and visited two dispensaries that are part of the PSI Tanzania-supported Familia health franchise network.

IntraHealth’s Tanzania HIV Prevention Project is funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Photos by Trevor Snapp.

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