CIDRZ with support from the Stop TB Partnerships/TB REACH and working with the Ministry of Health through the Lusaka District Health screened patients for TB treatment during the TB week.
With current statistics indicating that Zambia ranks 7th among 30 highest tuberculosis (TB) burden countries in the world, a lot of effort needs to be channeled towards ending the spread of TB.
As the world commemorated World TB Day this year, under the theme; Wanted: Leaders for a TB-Free World. You can make history. End TB, CIDRZ celebrated this year’s event with a TB screening drive in Lusaka’s George compound where close to 300 people were screened for TB as well as tested for HIV on a daily basis.
Matero Sub District TB Coordinator, Mercy Mwale said “in 2017, of 1693 patients on TB treatment,1451 are male and 242 female and from our observations men are at high risk of TB due to poor diet and excessive alcohol intake”.
“CIDRZ has supported us with a mobile X- Ray machine and an X-pert machine, resulting in quick turnaround time for results of all TB tests we conduct and detection of 10 MDR (Multi Drug Resistant) TB cases. This has elated the community going by the demand for TB screening services. Through TB drives such as this one, we are able to reach out to as many as 300 people in a day and this is all through CIDRZ support”.
Catherine Nalumbwe, a former TB patient shared her experience, “through the TB services offered by CIDRZ, I was quickly linked to care after being screened and found with TB. Throughout the six months I was on medication, I received support from the health care providers and today I stand before you to tell you that early TB detection saves lives. I wish to thank Stop TB Partnership and TB REACH because without their support, a lot of lives could have been lost to TB”.
And acting Lusaka District Health Director Kozya Zyambo says “all stakeholders need to come on board and participate towards ending TB. The community needs to be informed about the symptoms of TB and engage with health facilities to access treatment. Early detection and screening is the surest way to prevent TB.”
CIDRZ Director of TB Programmes, Dr Monde Muyoyeta emphasized the importance of community involvement in the fight against TB.
“Without the collaboration of the Community Volunteers, this work would not have been possible. Working with them and equipping them with knowledge about TB has resulted in increased case detection. We need to continue sensitizing people and encouraging them to screen for TB. Lastly I wish to thank our funders Stop TB Partnership/ TB REACH for their continued support in this drive to end TB”
According to UNAIDS, since 2010, the annual global number of new HIV infections among adults (15 years and older) has remained static, at an estimated 1.9 million with key populations accounting for 45% of all new HIV infections in 2015.
In some countries and regions, infection rates among key populations are extremely high. HIV prevalence among sex workers varies between 50% and 70% in several countries in southern Africa.
In Zambia, National AIDS Strategic Framework (NASF) reports that there are 46, 000 new infections in 2016 with most new infections happening among this population. With these statistics, several strategies such as condom use and treatment as prevention have been promoted among key populations.
However, HIV prevention needs change during a person’s lifetime and that a combination of interventions targeted at key populations are needed to halt the HIV epidemic.
CIDRZ with support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has moved a step up in its effort to ensure everyone has equal access to quality health care especially HIV services by introducing Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) services to HIV uninfected Key populations.
The programme that started in February 2018 under the Pharmacy unit intends to initiate 236 people on PrEP in 2018 in Lusaka and 1197 for Lusaka and Western Provinces in 2019.
Muhau Mubiana of CIDRZ explains, “Introduction of PrEP in Zambia is yet another step towards achieving the 90-9-90 strategy. PrEP is a program that brings a paradigm shift from focusing only on HIV positive clients but also on the HIV negative at substantial risk of HIV infection”.
“High numbers of new infections become a motivating factor for Health care providers like me to drive and support implementation of new innovations intended to reduce HIV infection in our country. In my own words, PrEP is not only for the socially acceptable community but the marginalized population. It is an Extended Service Delivery that touches the lives of marginalized communities. The program comes as a restoration of the right to health care to the vulnerable and marginalized population. Everyone has the right to be prevented from HIV infection provided they are considered to be at substantial risk”.
In order to reach out to these at risk populations, CIDRZ conducted a training targeting 55 health care providers and 28 PrEP beneficiaries. For health care providers, the training was to impart them with the necessary skills to offer friendly services to key populations.
For PrEP beneficiaries, the training was to equip them knowledge as advocates for good health behavior and act as linkages to facility care among their peers in their respective communities. The beneficiaries will be involved as PrEP Champions after having being on PrEP for the past one month.
Carol 33, a PrEP Champion shared her experience “When I first learnt Pre Exposure Prophylaxis(PREP), I had my fears that probably if I accepted to be initiated on the drug after testing negative for HIV, it would turn out as a way of actually infecting me with HIV. However, after intensified counseling and learning of the benefits and how that I was actually protecting myself from contracting HIV, I decided to agree to be initiated on PREP.”
“It is a good initiative to involve us the direct beneficiaries, because sex work is a job that is stigmatized and that makes it hard to go to the health facility and access services. Therefore, using a sex worker to reach out to another sex worker will create demand and uptake of services such as HIV testing and PrEP. To many, this will seem like a way to promote careless behavior but I tell you that our work really puts us at risk and we too need to have access to quality health care just like anybody else who is not doing our kind of business”
And Lwazo Akunfuna, a Clinical Officer at Kabwata health facility had this to say “This is a good initiative as the demand for the service is already there and will greatly impact on the fight against HIV. Key populations have the highest HIV rates in the country but the most difficult to reach and to see that CIDRZ has even managed to get some to access HIV services and become champions is commendable. These are people that we live with in our communities and offering them these services contributes to the well being of the community and Zambia as a whole and subsequently reduce the prevalent rate of HIV”.
CIDRZ receives a Two and half year grant from Elton John Foundation for Building capacities of the Zambia Correctional Service to provide holistic and integrated health services to juvenile offenders.
The Elton John Foundation has awarded CIDRZ a £750,000 to provide comprehensive, juvenile-appropriate health services including recreational and legal services.
The grant will focus on incarcerated juveniles owing to their vulnerability, marginalisation and increased risk of sexual exploitation and discrimination, hence, increased risk of HIV infection especially those incarcerated in adult holding facilities..
This grant will provide comprehensive interventions tailored to the needs of incarcerated juveniles aimed at reducing risk of HIV and other STI infections subsequently morbidity and mortality due to HIV and TB, and improve the quality of life of incarcerated juveniles.
In addition, the grant will initiate adolescent friendly health and social services, support legal services and advocate for judicial reform to expedite case disposal thereby reducing time of detention without trail.
For more information on this project, you can contact the Principal Investigateor, Dr Monde Muyoyeta, CIDRZ Director of TB programme (firstname.lastname@example.org); or Clement Moonga, the Programme Manager (email@example.com).