December 30, 2013 |

10 cool projects from PATH—and you

A smiling health worker reaches for three vials of vaccine.
PATH , the World Health Organization, and Temptime collaborated to put technology that shows heat exposure on vials of vaccines. Photo: PATH/Umit Kartogulu.

We’ve been telling you all month why you should give to PATH. Now let us show you a few examples of the kind of results your gifts support.

Vaccine vial monitor: The vaccine vial monitor is a small circle, no bigger than a dime, placed or printed on a vaccine vial. The circle changes color as it is exposed to heat, letting health workers know at a glance whether the vaccine has been damaged or can still be used for immunization. Over the next decade, it’s estimated vaccine vial monitors will allow workers to recognize and replace more than 200 million doses of damaged vaccine and confidently deliver more than a billion more doses—saving lives and reducing illness for countless people.

Two people standing outside a building, wearing hard hats and goggles.
PATH’s Dr. Ponni Subbiah and Dr. Wolfgang Laux of Sanofi tour a new semisynthetic artemisinin factory. Photo: PATH.

Semisynthetic artemisinin: Today, artemisinin, a drug derived from the sweet wormwood plant, is the main ingredient in the most effective treatment for malaria. But its supply depends upon a volatile crop. PATH and our partners figured out a way to create a new, stable supply of the drug. Large-scale production of semisynthetic artemisinin will bolster the botanical supply, expanding access to treatment. Up to 150 million doses will be produced in 2014.

A small, white box with a screen and a detached keyboard sits next to a larger white box.
careHPV™. Photo: QIAGEN.

careHPV™ cervical cancer screening test: The vast majority of women who die from cervical cancer live in developing countries where access to screening is rare. Since the 1990s, we’ve been working to bring screening to settings with few resources. One of our new tests signals if a woman is infected with one of the cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV). For women older than 30, current infection means higher risk of future disease. Working together with QIAGEN, the manufacturer of an expensive, hospital-based test, we created an easier-to-use, faster, and much less expensive version that performs well in basic labs. The test, called careHPV™, is considerably more sensitive than the Pap test commonly used in wealthy countries.

Young woman, standing, braids the hair of another young woman, sitting.
As part of HIV/AIDS prevention activities, Kenyan youth get vocational training, such as hairstyling, to boost their economic prospects and help them take charge of their future. Photo: PATH/Eric Becker.

APHIAplus Western HIV/AIDS services: Western Kenya faces a high burden of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other infections and diseases. Through a broad portfolio of integrated activities, we work across the health system to help some of Kenya’s most vulnerable people. For example, a community-based motorcycle ambulance service helps pregnant women in remote communities reach skilled care in time to give birth. This improves health outcomes and lowers rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Our current work in Western Kenya builds off the success of a previous project that reached more than 700,000 people with information about HIV/AIDS.

A young woman prepares to be vaccinated against meningitis A.
In 2010, Edwinge Nana got vaccinated in Burkina Faso. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

Meningitis A vaccine: For more than a century, meningitis has swept across sub-Saharan Africa in epidemics that kill one in ten people who are sickened and leave one-quarter of survivors severely debilitated. But now a powerful solution is stopping deadly meningitis in its tracks. MenAfriVac®, developed through a unique partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization, has protected an estimated 150 million people so far. A recent study found the vaccine reduced the incidence of meningitis by 94 percent following an immunization campaign in Chad.

Woman holding the Woman's Condom. Photo: PATH.
The Woman’s Condom. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.

Woman’s Condom: In 1996, two PATH employees asked: what if we could refine the female condom, with the cooperation of women and their partners, and come up with a design that would be easy to use and as comfortable as a male condom? The brainstorming sessions that followed brought PATH’s reproductive health and technology experts together to produce a female condom that would serve women better through a user-driven design. Today, PATH and our partners are working to introduce the Woman’s Condom in developing-country markets and to explore strategies to increase access. Initial introduction efforts are taking place in China and South Africa.

Infant in a crib beneath a red blanket.
When mothers are unable to breastfeed, donated milk can be a lifesaver. Photo: PATH/Amy MacIver.

Milk banking: Human milk banks, which rely on donated mothers’ milk, play an important part in making safe breast milk available to babies whose mothers are unable to provide it. The high cost of commercial-grade milk pasteurizers is one of the biggest barriers to implementation, so we worked with the University of Washington and the Human Milk Banking Association of South Africa to develop an easy-to-use and inexpensive pasteurization monitoring system guided by mobile phones. Our mobile phone app directs and monitors a simple heat-flash pasteurization process and transmits data to quality assurance supervisors. Using the system, infants in a number of neonatal intensive care wards in South Africa are fed donor milk—safely and affordably.

Two women in saris smile for the camera, one holding an over-the-shoulder bag with health supplies and the other an instructional poster.
Pushpavati Prathak and Durgavati Shukala served as community health workers in our Sure Start project. Photo: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki.

Sure Start for India’s babies: Every year, countless children in India die within a month of birth. Thousands more live but grow up weak or sickly, robbed of the essentials of a healthy childhood. In the two most populous states of India, Uttar Pradesh and Mahrashtra, our Sure Start project reached 24.5 million poor people with lifesaving information and support. Over the course of three years, we saw a substantial increase in the use of safe practices for pregnancy and infant care. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, more than twice as many women are giving birth in health facilities, nearly double the number of pregnant women are getting prenatal care, and more than twice as many women are breastfeeding their babies exclusively in the first week after birth.

Hand holding injectable contraceptive in device.
A new form of injectable contraception. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.

Sayana® Press injectable contraceptive: About a third of maternal deaths could be avoided by delaying motherhood, spacing births, preventing unintended pregnancy, and avoiding unsafely performed abortions. Sayana® Press is an injectable contraceptive prepackaged in the PATH-developed Uniject™ autodisable injection system—a small bubble of plastic prefilled with a single dose and attached to a short needle. The device is small, light, and very easy to use. With the help of many funders and partners, PATH is getting ready to bring up to 12 million doses of Sayana® Press to women in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Uganda, and Bangladesh over the next three years.

Group of young children holding their vaccination records.
Japanese encephalitis vaccine protects millions of children. Photo: PATH/Julie Jacobson.

Japanese encephalitis vaccine: Japanese encephalitis (JE) begins like the flu, progresses to a brain infection, and ends by killing up to 30 percent of its victims and leaving many others with permanent brain injuries. In search of a solution, PATH surveyed the field for a better JE vaccine. We discovered that one JE-affected country had already developed an affordable vaccine—China. With the vaccine identified, PATH collaborated with international partners and ministries of health in Asia to accelerate its introduction. Last fall, the World Health Organization gave a critical stamp of approval to the vaccine, opening the door for millions more children to gain protection from a truly devastating disease.

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