Nigerian Government applaud SIDHAS project Community Health and HIV Outreach in Obio-Akpor
In a busy neighborhood in Obio-Akpor, five tents and a team of proficient, friendly and well-equipped health workers offered HIV testing and counseling services to residents. The team comprised of personnel and volunteers of FHI 360 led “Strengthening Integrated Delivery of HIV/AIDS Services (SIDHAS) project” with funding support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID). At work on December 3, 2015, the team received the SIDHAS project advisory committee (PAC), which included representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), National AIDS & STI Control Program (NASCP), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (GF CCM) and National Tuberculosis & Leprosy Control program (NTBLCP).
Obio-Akpor represents one of the three PEPFAR scale up LGAs in Rivers State. The SIDHAS project PAC visited the LGA to observe the delivery of services using the community antiretroviral therapy (cART) model. cART promotes grassroots access to ART by bringing HIV/AIDS and general health services to the doorsteps of residents and links HIV positive clients to nearby facilities to ensure they receive lifesaving care and treatment. To aid privacy and client flow, the five tents situated at Obio-Akpor were each designated for the provision of specific services such as vital signs assessment, routine consultation, outreach, counseling, and testing.
PAC members sought to understand the strategy employed by the SIDHAS project team to ensure that the identified positive clients were referred to nearby facilities completed the required course of treatment. In response, the SIDHAS project team underscored the rationale for adequate preparation of eligible clients by adherence counselors before commencing antiretroviral treatment. In cases of persons living with HIV, case managers regularly conduct follow-up and provide escort services from the point of identification, through assessment and full transition to the referral facilities. The case managers also conduct home visits to facilitate the necessary adjustments by clients to HIV care and treatment services.
The cART model as observed by the visiting PAC members is an innovative model that attracts community residents. It provides the platform for pregnant women to access routine services and information and represents a unique entry point to offer HIV/AIDS counseling, testing and treatment services. Having observed the mode of operations and client flow at the Obio-Akpor site, the PAC expressed satisfaction with the quality of care at the visited site while urging the team to ensure the