Strengthening referral systems and ensuring effective HIV and TB care and support is at the heart of a new project in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.
Strengthening referral systems and ensuring effective HIV and tuberculosis (TB) care and support is at the heart of a new project in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.
The National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS, (NAPWA-South Africa) and the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa (HPCA) are collaborating to implement the CaSIPO project (Care and Support to Improve Positive Outcomes).
The project embraces the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention policy framework which was developed a few years ago, in consultation with people living with HIV, to improve the well-being, dignity and prevention needs of people living with HIV, which were often previously ignored. But the policy framework continues to be just as relevant today.
The CaSIPO project
Currently CaSIPO is being piloted in the Gauteng Province, and it is anticipated it will be taken up in other provinces of South Africa.
The project supports the government to strengthen referral systems and retention to HIV and TB care and support at healthcare facilities and communities in order to achieve UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 targets by 2020.
One of the key aims is to ensure clients stay in the continuum of care, and receive quality of care and quality of life.
How does it work?
The HPCA together with FHI360, a not-for-profit human development organisation, will provide ongoing technical assistance and build the capacity of the NAPWA-South Africa support groups to better integrate care and support, which will strengthen retention and referral.
Dr Liz Gwyther, CEO of HPCA, said: “The more holistic approach to caring for patients is intended to improve patient outcomes so that South Africans can experience quality of life and dignity when diagnosed with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness.”
NAPWA-South Africa will work on identifying and recording the number of clients in care, and develop and establish community adherence clubs and psycho-social support groups where they do not exist. They will also strengthen testing, referral, follow-up and client tracking systems.
Mluleki Zazini, national director of NAPWA-South Africa, said: “We are excited to be partnering with the HPCA. This is an exciting initiative that is aligned to the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention policy framework. It speaks to the core components of the framework; ensuring that we integrate services and addressing holistic needs of people living with chronic conditions.”
The policy framework, embraced by the CaSIPO project, emphasises the need for investing in a holistic approach to programming. The hope is that as countries review their National Strategic Plans, they will place a stronger focus on the Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention concept. This means placing leadership by people living with HIV in the centre of the HIV response, and emphasising their broader health and dignity as understanding of the benefits of preventative treatment is further developed.
It remains critical to integrate this approach into prevention activities for all key populations affected by HIV, such as LGBT people, sex workers and people who use drugs.
This means providing a minimum package of services for clients, improving referrals and links between services, and providing incentives and social support programmes that address various social barriers to successful care and treatment, such as hunger, inadequate child care, and unemployment.