In February, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Sherrod Brown (DOH) visited St. Peter's Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to observe the impact of U.S. Government-supported health programs.
The visit to St. Peter's, Ethiopia's national tuberculosis referral hospital, occurred during their weeklong trip to Africa. During this trip, Senator Durbin and Senator Brown examined U.S. foreign assistance programs, particularly health projects, on the continent.
With support from the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Tuberculosis Control Assistance Program, St. Peter's Hospital provides care for tuberculosis referral cases and patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
This hospital also provides a venue for individuals to receive care and treatment for HIV/AIDS as people living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to become infected with tuberculosis, and tuberculosis remains one of the leading causes of death for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Currently, St. Peter's provides antiretroviral treatment to 250 patients. To increase its capacity to treat TB/HIV co-infected patients, the hospital, with U.S. Government support, is undergoing renovations to scale-up its HIV counseling and testing units and to build a TB/HIV chronic care clinic, a drug dispensary and pharmacy store.
"My first visit to Africa was 12 years ago, and it was a sad time. They had discovered AIDS, but there was no cure. People believed it was a death sentence; so much has changed since then. Drugs are now available for many, and there is hope that HIV-positive people can now live a normal life," said Senator Durbin. "People are more open to testing and more open to facing this disease. That is a dramatic change. The United States, working through the PEPFAR program, provides funds directly to many nations, as well as being a major contributor to the Global Fund. From my point of view, this has been money well spent."
Senator Brown expressed his satisfaction with St. Peter's Hospital and its staff.
"What the personnel is doing is a phenomenal work," said Senator Brown. "In this hospital, they cure people with TB and give them a chance in life they would never have had - especially for those who are taking antiretroviral drugs and treatment for HIV and TB."
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