By A Correspondent- People living with HIV/AIDS will soon have anti retroviral (ARV) medication delivered to their homes under a programme meant to reduce cases of defaulting and enhance uptake.
The programme, which will initially be rolled out in rural communities before being progressively expanded to urban centres, has already had successful trials in Makoni District, Manicaland Province.
During the two-year-long trials in Makoni, incidents of default among those initiated on anti retroviral therapy (ART) have been reduced from around 10 percent to almost zero.
National AIDS Council (NAC) chief executive officer Dr Bernard Madzima said preparations for the roll-out were advanced.”Under the Community Antiretroviral Treatment Care Facilitator (CATCF) programme, a health worker collects ARVs for a household or community and goes around distributing them to our patients,” he said.
“The clinics ensure that the clients do not go to the clinics but the ARVs are brought to the homesteads.
“This means they can easily pick up on defaulters.”The programme, he said, ensures that data about a particular area is easily sent to the district, province and national data centres, meaning people can quickly take action if there are challenges.
NAC plans to spread the programme countrywide.
“It, however, requires financial and technical resources,” he added.
“There is need to train the community health workers, engage staff at the clinics, procure medication and ensure the system works.
“This is the way we want to move, especially in view of Covid-19, where we want minimum interaction and also decongest clinics.”An estimated 1,3 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.
According to the 2020 Zimbabwe Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (ZIMPHIA) survey, 97 percent of HIV-positive people are on ART, while about 93 percent have a suppressed viral load.
NAC’s Makoni District AIDS coordinator Mr Spencer Banguza said the pilot was a huge success.
“We are covering seven facilities comprising six clinics and a hospital,” he said. “In terms of performance as a district, we have been doing quite well in terms of viral load suppression and ensuring that the clients take their ARVs every day and on time. “Our trained cadres assist clients with their refills, how to take their ARVs, the time and dates they should have their viral loads checked.”
He said the programme has assisted those who may not want to travel to a health facility for refills.
“The programme has seen a decrease in defaulters and suppressed viral load, hence it should be rolled out across the country.”-statemedia