Our programs have proven the immense impact that individuals can have on the scale up of access to HIV care and AIDS medication for patients in developing countries. Our volunteer clinical mentors typically have successful careers and families at home, neither of which they can easily drop or relocate. Yet they are very passionate about why they became healthcare professionals and about making a contribution to help curb the AIDS pandemic. For them, ICEHA provides a defined, structured opportunity through which each clinical mentor's contribution can be maximized, thereby creating access to sustainable HIV/AIDS care throughout a country. Beyond the benefits for patients in the developing world, our volunteer clinical mentors have described their field assignment as “the most extraordinary experience of their professional lives.”
ICEHA gives countries the medical expertise needed to provide adequate healthcare to their population, avoiding having to rely on outside donor assistance indefinitely. Increasingly, developing countries have funding to make antiretroviral medication available for the AIDS patients in their countries, but their healthcare workers lack the practical expertise on how to diagnose and treat correctly. Unless local caregivers are able to take charge, scale-up of HIV care and prevention programs cannot happen in these countries. As a result of ICEHA’s rapid skill transfer program, many thousands of patients are currently in HIV care where no such care existed before. More importantly, this care is being provided by their own healthcare workers, and is hence sustainable for the future.
ICEHA’s clinical mentoring model is simple, highly structured and yet very effective in delivering immediate and sustainable results at ultra low costs. ICEHA uses an innovative triangular funding model through which a small amount of western funding catalyzes both significant financial contributions from inside developing countries as well as large in-kind contributions by volunteer clinical mentors. Typically, every $1900 spent on the recruitment of our volunteer clinical mentors in the West is matched by $4000 in funding provided by a developing country, which in turn is matched by $12 – 30K in in-kind contributions. For Western donors, ICEHA offers the opportunity to catalyze the set up of simple, fast, sustainable healthcare systems that result in care for patients immediately. These systems remain in existence far beyond the financial contribution.
By increasing HIV/AIDS knowledge and expertise amongst healthcare providers, ICEHA helps to set up a system where HIV transmission caused by unsafe medical practices is eliminated and HIV prevention messages are delivered and reinforced within the healthcare system. All too often HIV prevention is limited to public sector advocacy. In addition, by enabling healthcare providers to understand that HIV/AIDS can be addressed both in terms of prevention and care, disease stigma greatly diminishes amongst the caregivers and in the community.