USAID provides N$32 million to increase community-based HIV services
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) this week announced an N$32 million partnership over five years with the TONATA PLHIV (People Living with HIV) network to expand community-based HIV treatment among its network of over 600 community support groups, which represents 17,300 Namibians living with the virus.
Moreover, the partnership, with funding from the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) will support Community-Based ART Refill Groups in high-burden areas north of the country to decrease the workload of health workers and overcrowding in health facilities by reducing the number of visits by Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) patients.
According to the U.S Embassy in Namibia, instead of visiting clinics individually to collect their medication, Community-Based ART Refill Groups would then send one representative to collect pre-packed antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) from the nearest health facility for all group members.
“This not only saves time, but also reduces transport costs and other logistical challenges, especially for minors and the elderly. Most importantly, community members experience a sense of togetherness and help each other to remember to take their medication regularly and on time. This is crucial because in order to suppress the virus, prevent it from being spread to others, and lead healthy lives, PLHIV need to take ART medicine daily,” the embassy said.
Furthermore, TONATA and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, with U.S. Government’s assistance, collaborate to expand differentiated models of care by working with community support groups in eight districts: Andara, Engela, Grootfontein, Nyangana, Onandjokwe, Omuthiya, Oshikuku, and Tsumeb.
“Due to TONATA’s experience in working hand in hand with local communities, their partnership with USAID brings HIV treatment closer to the people- even in the most remote areas – and also helps in Namibia’s fight against stigma,” Acting USAID Country Representative, Edith Humphreys, said.
USAID has worked with TONATA on small projects since 2009 and believes that local solutions from community support groups will sustain HIV epidemic control into the future.