“Now that I’ve seen…I am responsible.”
Ontarget Interactive is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. One of the ways we accomplish this is through our partnership with Global Health Innovations, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing HIV/AIDS in Africa. Their system alerts mothers when they need to come in for testing and treatments, addressing an issue that’s causing an enormous loss of life among African children. Our participation in this organization has allowed us to visit and meet with the people who are actually being affected by this stigmatized virus. Due to new advancements in medicine, we can even prevent the transfer of HIV to the babies in utero. Our primary involvement was designing and developing their HITSystem, an internet-based application that keeps track of HIV mothers and their newborn babies. By connecting them to the clinic and the lab that gathers their results, they’re able to know exactly when they need to go in for another checkup.
At Ontarget, we believe that everyone is born with a desire to help others. We use our resources and extra time to help organizations that are able to do more than we ever could. We support organizations that are dedicated to supporting others, since we know that they’re the expert at what they do. Global Health Innovations can dedicate 100% of their time to design, implement, and manage programs that prevent and treat HIV/AIDS among those living in areas of extreme poverty.
Kansas City Steps Up
This mission goes beyond fighting HIV though; Brad Gautney and his team also give medical care to the children living in orphanages and those rescued from slavery. This team is made up of trained medical professionals, as well as high school, pre-med and medical students from the Kansas City area. These students are able to get first-hand experience and learn how their skills can be used to help non-profits that are truly dedicated to making a change in this world. According to Gautney, “we couldn’t do this without the grassroots support of the people of Kansas City”. This city is full of generous individuals and organizations that only need an opportunity to give back. On top of research grants, the non-profit has also received private donations from people out there who have a passion for health, children, and the underprivileged.
Besides a communication system that helps mothers keep on track with their treatments and doctor visits, the organization also works to prevent babies from being infected in the first place. By treating an expectant mother before she gives birth, that baby’s chances of being HIV-free increase by 90%. This preventative treatment is called ‘Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission’ or PMTCT. The latest version of the HITSystem supports mothers, clinicians, nurses, and laboratory professionals to identify and treat the woman who can be helped before the problem spreads. These antiretroviral medicines have prevented 1.6 million new infections among children since they were introduced in 2000. In certain countries, the mortality rate among children under 15 dropped by 53% between the years 2009 and 2015 as a result of the Global Plan to eliminate HIV infection. Global Health Innovations is working to not just treat the HIV-infected babies, but negate the transferal altogether.
“Helping other is why we’re here on this Earth.”
There are roughly 23 million people who have HIV in sub-Saharan African. It’s estimated that 16 million children under 18 have been orphaned by AIDS. Every day, 6,000 people in Africa die from AIDS. If an HIV-positive mother goes untreated, there is a 15%-45% chance of her baby getting the virus. Preventable and treatable diseases take the lives of nearly 9,000 Africans every year. The best way to combat this epidemic is to test pregnant women for HIV, test infants born to HIV positive mothers, and treat those who have positive results. With HIV DNA PCR testing and the early-initiation of antiretroviral therapy, a baby’s chance of dying is reduced by 75% in resource-limited countries.
HIV is one of the most debilitating and stigmatized illnesses affecting sub-Saharan Africa, and Global Health Innovations works to combat this. Among young women and children especially, treatment can be difficult to get ahold of. Oftentimes, parents will neglect a child affected by HIV rather than put in the resources to find treatment. Of the women affected by HIV, more than 4 in 10 are young women aged 15-24.This is due in part to the common occurrence of sexual behavior between young men and older women, behavior which is often associated with low condom use. Children are susceptible as well, since the infection travels from mother to child in the womb and in breastmilk. UNAIDS created a Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive. There has been an overall 43% decline of children affected since 2009, though this dip hasn’t been consistent among all sub-Saharan countries. Where Malawi has dipped 67%, Nigeria’s numbers only dropped 19%.
The HITSystem from Global Health Innovations uses an algorithm based on the child’s date of birth to create alerts (text messages) that will ensure the mother knows when her eight time-sensitive interventions for her infant are taking place. Infants enrolled in the system are tracked until they are either (1) determined to be HIV+, initiated on HAART, and linked to lifelong pediatric HIV care, (2) conclusively determined to be HIV-negative at 24 months, or (3) accounted for the rare outcomes of infant mortality or transfer to another health facility. Currently, the system is helping mothers and infants in Kenya, Tanzania, and Malawi. Global Health Innovations hopes to broaden their reach with continued donations and technological advancements.
The founder and president of the organization, Brad Gautney, was inspired to help others during his senior year of college when he picked up a National Geographic magazine and noticed a story about Haiti. After reading about the health needs that the country was facing, he chose to spend the summer in Haiti working to improve the lives of those who need it. From that seed of generosity grew an organization that would save thousands of lives. Gautney claims his life was transformed by God’s love, specifically in seeing how God’s healing power made an impact in the lives around him. He spent four year living in Haiti with his family, during which time they ran a clinic, school and nutrition program. His involvement with Haiti inspired him to change his life’s mission. From the words of Gautney himself:
“The focus of my life from that time forward has been to make a difference, to use the blessings and gifts I’ve been given to move toward change in places where poverty and oppression seem overwhelming. My heart was and is to be a voice for so many that are never heard. It is not coincidence that poverty is mentioned over 2000 times in the Bible; that is where we find God’s heart. And that is where I want to work. The people of Haiti taught me so much, and made me desire to do even more.”
“Take care of widows and orphans in their distress.”
Besides the HITSystem, Global Health Innovations works to serve orphans and vulnerable children around the globe through comprehensive health care. What this entails is surgical services, immunization, providing clean water, deworming, HIV/AID testing, insecticide-treated mosquito net distribution, chronic disease assessment and management, nutritional services, and HIV/AIDS testing. GHI trains and empowers local care professionals to provide the best services to those who really need it. The money raised by GHI goes toward funding the Pothawira Foundation, an outpatient clinic which addresses the medical needs of those in the Salima District. This Malawi-based organization was founded by Dr. Anna Alaniz and Dr. Peter Maseko and treats more than 300 patients a day. You can give to this organization knowing that you’re actually making a difference.
“This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
In addition to helping develop the HITSystem for Global Health Innovations, Terry and his son also visited Nairobi, Kenya to meet the people who were actually being helped due to their efforts.
Ontarget Interactive is also involved in other charitable organizations that are geared toward helping single women and orphaned children. The Touch-A-Life Foundation uses the arts, care centers and grief communities to help bring healing and empowerment to children in Ghana, Vietnam and Cambodia. These children come from vulnerable situations, whether it be the death of a parent or trafficking, and are aided through holistic long-term childcare from this organization. We created an online Electronic Medical Records system which allows them to keep track of the medical information for each of the children located around the world. The Johnson Country Interfaith Hospitality Network is dedicated to giving temporarily homeless single women and families a place to live, learn and plan for a better future. By connecting churches from around the area, temporary rooms are created from church classrooms and lobbies. Counseling is available to these participants, and meals are served regularly so tenants can focus on job searching instead of stressing over money. We worked to give them a responsive website design that would make information about the program easily accessible to all. Check out our Helping Other page to learn more about the organizations we assist and what they’re doing to help people locally and around the world.