By Mike Van Kamande:
Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (Manerela+) some people living with HIV and Aids are defaulting on treatment due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on Monday afternoon in Dedza during a Community-led Monitoring and Advocacy project volunteers orientation on data collection Manerela+ programme officer said recipients of care should be knowledge in treatment literacy to help others adhere to antiretroviral therapy (ART).
“The project is targeting members of the Key Population like commercial sex workers, men who have sex with other men, the transgender and people living with HIV and AIDS. The training empowers recipients of care to monitor how HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis and Covid-19 services are delivered.
“Many people are defaulting because of distances because they prefer going to far away facilities to avoid embarrassment but with high cost of transportation they fail to do so. Community led monitoring and advocacy is premised on education, evidence, advocacy and engagement so that members of the Key Population adhere to treatment despite adversely affected by Covid-19,” Kachepatsonga said.
Kachepatsonga said some people are also defaulting because of gender-based violence (GBV), high transport cost, poverty and stigma and discrimination.
Dedza District Interfaith Aids Committee (Daic) data supervisor Clement Phiri said they provides an evidence base for advocacy that can and should be used to co-create solutions to the challenges receipts of care face.
“This is particularly important for people in Key Population who face barriers not addressed by incomplete data gathered by those who fund, design, and deliver services. Placing communities and patients at the centre of the HIV response is critical to controlling the HIV epidemic.
“In particular, collaborating with community members in a way that will identify barriers and enablers to accessing and utilizing HIV services is pivotal to recipient of care focus.
Approaches like Community-led monitoring allows communities to themselves design, implement and carry out routine, ongoing monitoring of the quality and accessibility of HIV treatment and prevention services. Through use of community-led monitoring approaches, CTO programs and health institutions can pinpoint persistent problems, solutions or enablers, and barriers to service uptake at the facility- and community- level,” he said.
Phiri said the approach can help ensure Health Care Workers provide quality HIV services that beneficiaries want to utilize, improves the patient experience, and ultimately improves patient outcomes.
Manerela+ is implementing the Community Led Monitoring and Advocacy project in eight health facilities in Kasungu and six in Dedza with funding from Bill and Melinda Foundation through International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC).