“I was telling a colleague of mine that I was looking through the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) 2017 Annual Report and it is quite amazing to see the amount of work that CIDRZ is doing. We commend you for all the work you are doing and also to recognise that CIDRZ has been a great partner in the response to HIV/AIDS going by the amount of work happening at facility and community level. We are very excited to come and be part of this meeting to learn and share with you the outcomes from the study.
“This study is very important to us as you are all aware that the Ministry has set for itself what is being referred to as legacy goals one of which is epidemic control of HIV/AIDS as outlined in our National Health Strategic Plan 2017 to 2021”, said Ministry of Health (MOH) Director of Public Heath, Dr Andrew Silumesii during the National Dissemination Meeting of the CIDRZ led Community ART for Retention Study results.
Dr Silumesi said, “in the strategic plan, we are looking forward to a time that we will have as per our commitment to the 90:90:90 goals, 90% of our patients requiring treatment be on treatment by 2020 and achieving this epidemic control. With that comes a responsibility of us taking care of the people we have put on treatment.
“The numbers keep on growing as you may be aware we are almost reaching 900,000 on treatment. And indeed the question we should be asking ourselves is how we are going to ensure that we take care of our patients, give them the best quality care in the most efficient way and using our resources in an efficient and effective way. Studies of this nature inform us of how best we can implement our services. I am delighted to be here to learn what this study has to teach us and what it is that we can draw from it to inform policy and decision making”.
And in her welcoming remarks, CIDRZ CEO Dr Izukanji Sikazwe said CIDRZ aims to contribute to finding of solutions to public health challenges that the country faces especially in the area of HIV prevention, care and treatment.
“With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we implemented the Community ART for Retention study (CommART) from 2015 -2018, a study aimed at generating knowledge to inform the development of an efficient, effective and acceptable differentiated ART Care continuum”, Dr Sikazwe said.
Dr. Sikazwe thanked CIDRZ other partners such as U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the government through the Ministry of Health and other non-governmental organisations for supporting CIDRZ throughout the years.
“CIDRZ is always ready to receive any feedback from you on how to improve access to heath services and therefore, I urge all of you to utilize the toolkit that has been developed as we aim to reach the 90:90:90 targets”, she added
And Dr Mulimansenga Chanda from USAID SAFE said CIDRZ may not be aware of the impact the work that is being done in terms access to HIV quality health services for all Zambian. “ CIDRZ has been around for a long time and in all these years, their work has been standard, innovative and to crown it all, they have added a toolkit which is important to all of us and the general HIV work.”
And speaking during the same event, MoH National ART Coordinator, Dr Lloyd Mulenga said, “we would love to share these good works during the 8th Zambia Health Research Conference in October as this is one key issue that needs to be brought to the larger panel so that out there, people can hear of the different models that are working”.
CIDRZ hosted the dissemination meeting to share lessons learnt from the implementation of the different models of differentiated service delivery that were piloted during the study, and also to officially launch the Community ART Toolkit developed by CIDRZ.
It is hoped that the CommART Toolkit will be able to provide other programme implementers and researchers with the practical materials and information needed for them to tackle the HIV epidemic and make substantial achievements towards reaching the UNAIDS Global 90-90-90 Treatment Targets in their contexts and settings. Through innovative strategies, such as the provision of the differentiated service delivery models detailed in this Toolkit, patient retention in care and patient outcomes can be improved at each step of the HIV prevention, care and treatment cascade.
The CIDRZ CommART study piloted four Differentiated Service Delivery (DSD) models: Community Adherence Groups (CAGs), Urban Adherence Groups (UAGs), FastTrack and Streamline ART Initiation (START).
Its objectives were:
- To determine the acceptability, appropriateness, and feasibility of a differentiated care system in Zambia
- To evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and healthcare quality of a differentiated care system that includes targeted models of care
- To develop a “methodologic” toolkit for assessment of local needs and preferences and for implementation during scale-up of differentiated care models in this and in other contexts