What’s a primary care doctor like me doing in a vertical response like this?

If you’re involved in primary health care or global health, you may have heard that primary care is all about “horizontal” programs.  Those of us who live and breathe the wonders of primary care regularly cite the benefits of health care that is broad and comprehensive. We even point to evidence that shows how a focus on primary care results in better health outcomes at lower costs that is more equitable and accessible.

I believe in the benefits of primary care with all my heart, soul and mind.

So how can I simultaneously devote so much time and energy to something like GAD that seems clearly based on “vertical” interventions focused on a single issue like HIV?  What a good question!

Well, my first line of defence would declare that even a dedicated primary care doctor can recognize that there must sometimes be an exceptional emphasis on certain issues.  HIV is one of these. I remember former UNAIDS Director, Dr Peter Piot, who repeatedly declared the exceptional nature of HIV. That always resonated with me. HIV is exceptional because of the sheer numbers of people affected.  (By this measure, other illnesses such as tuberculosis would also qualify as exceptional.) HIV is exceptional because, more than almost any other infection, its spread is driven by the social determinants of health (economy, education, gender). Piot used to describe how HIV has “revealed the fault lines of society”.

But my other line of defence in any accusation about the validity of focusing on a vertical program comes from recognition that solving the problem of HIV in the world requires the very essence of what primary care is all about.

Addressing HIV requires public infrastructure and strong health systems along with broad-based educational and economic solutions.

Countries, regions and communities that have successfully reigned in the impact of HIV have done so through great public health systems with the aid of excellent primary care.

Gregg Gonsalves said this in Mexico in 2008:  Without continuing sustained focus on AIDS treatment, many millions of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world will die, period. And without breadth, not only will AIDS treatment be incomplete, but we will miss the greatest opportunity in history to build functioning health systems in some of the poorest countries of the world.

Finally, the organizations to which GAD recommends donations (Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International), do their remarkable work for people affected by HIV at the community level using the very principles on which primary care depends (including engaged communities and patient-centered care).

So I will continue to advocate on behalf of those affect by HIV. I will continue to ask everyone to give a day’s pay on World AIDS Day (December 1) in response to the exceptional issue of HIV.

As we address HIV we must use the principles of primary care to build the public health capacity that will have lasting impact on the communities most severely affected by this scourge.

What do you think? If you believe in primary care, will you join me in recognizing World AIDS Day by giving one day’s pay to one of GAD’s recommended recipients?

And while you’re at it, here’s how you can help now!

  1. Join us in giving one day’s pay on World AIDS Day, December 1!
  2. Share this. Tweet this.
  3. Follow us on Twitter.
  4. Like us on Facebook.
  5. Join our mailing list.
  6. Engage your community or workplace in a GAD campaign.
  7. Plan a harambee.
  8. Leave us a comment, a question or a note of encouragement.

If you had a thousand dollars…

Recently a kind relative gave $1000 to each of our kids (aged 21, 19, 16 and 10) with the directions that it was to be donated to a cause of their choice.

This started a long and interesting discussion about what cause each would like to support.  Some of the options they considered were the Canadian Cancer Society, the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association, the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, or the Mennonite Central Committee work to provide food aid for Somalia.

The Globe and Mail has a fantastic special feature this week with some excellent articles about how philanthropy can be both smart and good.

It’s a big deal to donate $1000.  You need to know it will be well spent.  Around December 1 (World AIDS Day) lots of Canadians make donations of one day’s pay.  For some, the amount turns out to be $80 or $100.  For some it is $1000 or more! How do these people know their donation will be well used?

Give a Day (GAD) recommends 2 great recipients and I personally give to them for a variety of reasons.

I believe my money will be well used by Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International because:

  1. I know and trust their leaders.
  2. I’ve watched them grow from small Canadian organizations responding to HIV.  They have held true to their original purpose, values and approach.
  3. I know the money gets to the people who need it.  I’ve visited some of the projects supported by the Stephen Lewis Foundation and talked to the women and families who are recipients of support.
  4. I know how much they need my support to fulfil their mandate. For all our hard work, it is still a struggle to raise money for the cause of HIV.  We cannot lessen our advocacy for this cause.

I’m delighted that my children can make a contribution this year to a cause of their choice.

Around December 1, I hope many will give generously in recognition of World AIDS Day.

How about you? How can you help now?

  1. Share this. Tweet this.
  2. Follow us on Twitter.
  3. Like us on Facebook.
  4. Join our mailing list.
  5. Engage your community or workplace in a GAD campaign.
  6. Plan a harambee.
  7. Leave us a comment, a question or a note of encouragement.

GLINT – A Marathon of the Mind

Dr. Jane Philpott, Founder of Give a Day writes…Time to get going on a new idea to keep attention on HIV in the world – with the ultimate goal of a world without AIDS!

Been thinking about how everyone loves a challenge. Many health-related foundations gather great energy and support from runs, walks, bike-a-thons – you name it!

Since I’m not remotely an athlete myself, yet forever seeking ways to expand the Give a Day campaign, I thought we should develop a Marathon of the Mind.

Another inspiration for this plan comes from the fact that I am now a confirmed Twitter addict. Happy to have finally clued in to this great tool for connecting with creative & inspiring people all over the world.

So, the ingredients of this Marathon of the Mind will be:
– Raising awareness about HIV in the world
– Inspiring more people to give a day’s pay
– Takes place on World AIDS Day, December 1
– Happens Live on Twitter
– Includes people from around the world
– Educates about HIV and the places most affected by HIV
– Kind of like a trivia contest but HIV is not a trivial (trifling, unimportant) matter, so this will be a “not-so trivial” challenge

With great anticipation, may I introduce you to GLINT!

The GLINT challenge is the
Give a Day
Trivial challenge.

Many more detail to follow. But for now, start putting together a GLINT team from your workplace, community, family or friends. Set aside one hour. On December 1 at 12 noon EST, the world will gather for GLINT. We will Connect, Collaborate & Contribute toward a world without AIDS!

Great Results for Give a Day 2010!

We are thrilled to announce that the Give a Day 2010 campaign has raised over half a million dollars on behalf of people affected by HIV! This is a great time to celebrate and reflect on all that happened in 2010.

There was even greater energy, enthusiasm and momentum for the Give a Day movement this year. We saw the concept of “global solidarity and local solutions” put into action as communities in Canada came together in creative ways to show their strong support and solidarity for communities in Africa that are affected by HIV. We kicked off the campaign by hearing former Prime Minister Paul Martin address a sold-out crowd from the legal, medical and business communities, urging them to join the Give a Day movement. We were gratified to see how this endorsement inspired new campaigns and donations and gave us the opportunity to bring the idea of Give a Day to a wider audience.

We thank all those who participated in the Give a Day campaign. The donations received have been instrumental in allowing The Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International to continue their remarkable work in responding to the HIV and AIDS pandemic at the grassroots, facilitating access to life-saving drugs and by supporting community-based initiatives.

We are already hard at work preparing for Give a Day 2011. Please contact us at info@giveaday.ca if you would like to be a part of this growing movement! We can give you information on how to launch a campaign in your workplace or how you can join us as a volunteer.

A Night of Music for Give a Day

Come join us for a great night of music in support of Give a Day to World AIDS! On Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 pm, James Miller and his band will be holding a Harambee at Nineteen on the Park in Stouffville. James has traveled around the world to over three dozen countries and this can be heard in his music with his blend of traditional folk and roots influences, and elements of world music, creating an inspiring and uplifting sound. Tickets are available through the box office or by calling 905-640-2322. Give a Day founder, Dr. Jane Philpott, will be on hand to talk about the Give a Day Campaign and the work of Dignitas International and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. We hope to see you there!