The International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Uganda (Alliance Uganda) has signed agreements with groups of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in Luwero and Nakaseke districts to enable the groups to reach out to communities and increase access to prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) services.
Alliance Uganda received funding from ViiV HealthCare’s Positive Action for Children Fund to implement a three year PMTCT community referral strengthening project that started in January, 2012. This project is implemented in partnership with community based networks and groups of PLHIV, district based health facilities and in partnerships with various non governmental organisations (NGOs) and faith based organisations (FBOs). The four districts to be covered in this arrangement in Uganda include Luwero, Nakaseke, Mukono and Iganga.
The project aims at contributing to Uganda’s efforts to reduce vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child by increasing access to PMTCT, HIV services and antenatal care services, through community based interventions.
PLHIV groups in the districts covered will;
- Work as focal persons in increasing demand for and utilisation of PMTCT services
- Have their capacities strengthened to enable them support PMTCT services
- Assist in increasing the uptake of family planning services by women living with HIV
Alliance Uganda is building on its previous experience of working with networks of PLHIV and has trained 41 network support agents who are spread in the four districts (12 in Iganga, 11 from Mukono, 4 from Nakaseke and 14 from Luwero). Following the training, Alliance Uganda sought to enter into a working agreement with the different clusters of groups in order to enable them access sub-grants for implementation of activities at the community level.
Alliance Uganda project team leader, Jeniffer Gaberu said that,
“The key people in the communities are the groups of people living with HIV/AIDS. This particular project is for expanding PMTC at community level.”
The mayor of Kiwoko town Council Mr. Kabale Suleiman, who attended the signing ceremony in Nakaseke said to the group members:
“The agreements are not for only those whose signatures appear on paper. They are for all of us. Others members should help us to implement the aspirations of our groups in relation to the PMTCT programme we are working on. Let us do what we have committed ourselves to doing. If we do our work well, our actions will give impetus to other organisations to support us.”
While taking the groups through the agreement signing process the project Jennifer Gaberu urged the groups to “Go ahead and spread the word of safe positive living and use the instruments provided like work plans, monitoring and evaluation plans and financial requisition forms to provide on what they are expected to deliver.”
She urged the group members use the structures of the government in place to do their work and also emphasised the need for proper accountability urging members to use the money for what is meant to be used.
Network Support Agents – in their own words
A number a Network Support Agents (NSA) told us about a number of activities which they perform:
According to Hassan Mutebi, “We follow up people we have referred to Health Centres and find out whether they have got help. We are the ones in the communities; we do not fear our fellow people who are living with HIV.”
Milly Namala who is stationed at Nakaseke hospital, said, “We contact women who deliver in health facilities are HIV positive and advise them on the precautions to take on breast feeding for PMTCT. We also advise them on family planning.”
Lumala Livingstone another NSA said, “We go to the village communities, tell people to go and test, when they are found to be HIV positive, we encourage them to start seeking counselling and medical guidance from the health centres and facilities.”
Another NSA Kyabasinga Bernard said, “We also encourage people who are HIV positive to have discipline in their sexual lifestyles. We tell them to join our groups, and have something to do for themselves and not remain beggars. We go into schools and address children who were born with HIV and help to reduce stigma and discrimination.”
- An elderly man Signs on behalf of group
- A lady Signs on behalf of group
- A youth signs on behalf of group