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FXB Center Partners With The Merck Company Foundation to Reduce Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission Rates in Botswana
Date:3/24/2011

NEWARK, N.J., March 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center (FXB) of the University of Medicine and Dentistry (UMDNJ) School of Nursing will provide training to 150 clinicians in Botswana who will then train more than 6,000 healthcare workers thanks to a grant of nearly $375,000 from The Merck Company Foundation.

These healthcare workers will ultimately support Botswana's efforts to improve systems for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT).

The two-year grant from The Merck Company Foundation through the Foundation of UMDNJ aims to reduce the number of infants and children with HIV and ensure timely diagnosis of those who are infected so that they can be enrolled early in HIV care.  FXB Center staff will work directly with the Botswana Ministry of Health to support the planning, implementation and evaluation of healthcare worker training.

"The FXB Center has a strong reputation for the expertise of its staff and the quality of its technical assistance and training materials aimed at preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in countries with limited health resources," explained Ellen W. Lambert, executive vice president, The Merck Company Foundation. "These new funds build upon our existing support in Botswana and we hope will help further accelerate the progress being made in reducing transmission of the disease."

Ten years ago the government of Botswana, with support from Merck and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, established a model public-private partnership, called the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships, to support the county's battle against HIV. Today, more than 90 percent of pregnant women living with HIV in Botswana receive care, treatment and support to reduce their risk of passing HIV to their babies.  Since Botswana established its PMTCT Program in 1999, rates of mother-to-child transmission have fallen from an estimated 40% to 4%.  The FXB Center has been working in Botswana since 2003 providing technical assistance to its Ministry of Health with a focus on training the country's healthcare workers to address the epidemic. The Center has conducted seminars and training programs, produced training materials, and conducted a national wellness for healthcare workers program.  

"Botswana has made great progress in treating HIV and reducing transmission rates under the leadership of Mary Jo Hoyt, director of Global FXB Programs, with support from the entire FXB global team," notes Andrea Norberg, FXB Center interim executive director.  "However, with Botswana having the world's second highest rate of people living with HIV, there is still much more to be done. We are grateful to The Merck Foundation for providing the means for the FXB Center to ramp up its in-country PMTCT training program."

About the Foundation of UMDNJ

The Foundation of UMDNJ, an affiliate of New Jersey Health Foundation, is an independent, not-for-profit organization that solicits private sector support by connecting individuals, corporations and foundations that want to advance healthcare with those at UMDNJ who are pursuing those same passions. For more information, visit www.foundationofumdnj.org.

About The Merck Company Foundation

The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck, a global healthcare leader, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck's chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations.  Since its inception, The Merck Company Foundation has contributed more than $600 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck's overall mission to help the world be well.  For more information, visit www.merckcompanyfoundation.org.

About the FXB Center

The FXB Center at the UMDNJ-School of Nursing provides clinical care, education, and technical assistance in the United States and globally to improve the health of vulnerable women, children, youth and families — including those infected and affected by HIV. The Global HIV Program contributes to sustainable efforts that build capacity and infrastructure for providing HIV prevention, care and treatment services. The program offers technical assistance and training on PMTCT, pediatric care, and clinical trials in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. For more information about the program, visit http://www.fxbcenter.org/ .


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