The Integra Initiative, led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the Population Council, analysed the potential benefits, effectiveness and challenges of integrating HIV and sexual and reproductive health services in Kenya, Malawi and Swaziland.
Poor sexual and reproductive health and HIV are both driven by similar factors, including socio-economic and gender inequality and social marginalisation of vulnerable populations. This is the first study to provide robust evidence that integration of services can lead to better health outcomes, better service experience – including decreased stigma – and cost savings.
Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and former Executive Director of UNAIDS, said: “Provision of integrated services for sexual and reproductive health and rights can be vital for reducing transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and reducing unintended pregnancies.
“We at the School are delighted to play a leading role in designing and implementing the Integra Initiative, and look forward to putting research evidence into practice with partners to extend more effective services to improve health and health equity in Africa and worldwide.”
More than half of maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa and an estimated 1.2 million people die from HIV every year in the region. The Integra Initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to save the lives of those at risk by combining services.
Pamela Nash MP, Chair of the All- Party Parliamentary Group on HIV & Aids said: “If we are going to make any sustained progress in the fight against HIV and maternal mortality, integrated services are essential. We are delighted to be launching this Integra research here today and honoured to hear from President Banda about the impact of the Integra project in Malawi.”
President Joyce Banda of Malawi, added: “In Malawi, as in every country around the world, we need to ensure that services are provided that are accessible for all clients and are free from stigma. Integrated services, provided by trusted and competent providers, can be a step in the right direction to ensuring access to more health services for all.”
Image: Professor Andy Haines and Dr Susannah Mayhew from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine announce the results of the study alongside President Banda at the All-Party Parliamentary Groups on HIV and AIDS and on Population, Development and Reproductive Health at the Houses of Parliament. Credit: Flynn Warren.