Empowering children and their families for a brighter future: BIPAI holds 20th annual network meeting

20th Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) network meeting
Johanna Theunissen, Communications Officer, Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation Malawi

More than 120 people from 11 countries across three continents attended the 20th Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) network meeting from November 12-16, 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The annual network meeting brings together clinicians, program managers, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) staff, and other key cadres to learn from each other and exchange experiences for improved healthcare programming and service delivery.

BIPAI, a collaboration between Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, began in 1996 and now provides quality care to children and their families in 12 countries – nine of them in Africa. BIPAI currently treats more than 300,000 children and is one of the largest providers of pediatric HIV care and treatment in the world, while continuing to expand its treatment of other conditions impacting the health and well-being of children and families. 

The nine African countries BIPAI works in

The 20th annual meeting, The big picture: empowering children and their families for a brighter future was comprised of more than 40 oral presentations, poster sessions, country updates, and panel discussions. Slido, an electronic audience interaction tool, was used to promote real-time audience participation and rating of each presentation. Clinical themes included treatment failure, tuberculosis, oncology, early infant diagnosis and prevention of mother-to-child transmission, HIV testing and counselling, ocular issues, and infectious diseases. While BIPAI seeks to provide excellent clinical services, meeting themes also acknowledged the need to address relevant contextual, social, and psychological factors, including nutrition, psychosocial support, adolescent healthcare, and strengthening of health systems.

The meeting brought in Dr. Leon Levin, head of Pediatric HIV Programs at Right to Care, who has more than 20 years’ experience in treating children with HIV in South Africa, as a guest speaker on the management of pediatric treatment failure, followed by a series of presentations and discussions on challenging patient cases from various countries. The meeting provided updates from the International AIDS Conference in July 2018, including the latest on the neural tube defect findings among children whose mothers were taking the antiretroviral drug Dolutegravir during the time of conception. It also included a workshop on quality improvement and a presentation of the findings from research on 1,217 pediatric patients co-infected with HIV and TB from seven sites in six countries.

The network meeting facilitated learning and sharing experiences through the formal program as well as social events throughout the week, including a screening of the documentary/animated film LIYANA and a craft market showcasing artistic products from across the network countries. Participants now go back to their daily routines with fresh ideas and new or renewed contact with those doing similar work in various contexts, demonstrating the value of periodic breaks to assess progress, celebrate achievements, and collaborate to address shared challenges.

Access the abstracts presented at the network meeting here.

View videos from the network meeting on BIPAI’s Facebook page.

Participants from Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation Malawi at BIPAI’s 20th annual network meeting