The ‘Jitume’ model, rooted in the Swahili concept of “sacrifice,” stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment and empathy of healthcare professionals in Lokichar Sub County Hospital, Turkana South Sub-County, where challenging terrain and remote locations would often hinder access to essential HIV Prevention, Care, and Treatment services. Through the adoption of this innovative model, remarkable achievements have been realized, with a notable 100% Viral Load suppression rate among Female Sex Workers and 94% among the general population. The dedication exuded by one of the Clinical Officers cannot go unnoticed alongside other Health Care Workers.
Through the model and inspiring display of dedication, the Clinician invested his savings to purchase a motorbike, affectionately named ‘CCC-DICE’, which has become a vital tool for patient management. The use of the motorbike facilitates efficient home visits where counselling to clients who default on their treatment and are suspected of treatment failure is done. One heartwarming success story involves a client residing at Nakabosan village, 23 kilometres from the main centre in Lokichar. Through home visits and follow-up, the client, who lacked the means to reach the facility due to lack of transportation, was able to receive proper care from the “CCC-DICE”, leading to a successful Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) outcome with a HIV-negative baby confirmed via Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR).
In their quest to provide care without barriers, the Health Care Workers have demonstrated remarkable flexibility, even making visits to ‘hotspots’ as late as 9.30 pm at night to reach out to KP clients who are usually unavailable during the day but at night. To overcome the stigma associated with HIV, HCWs cleverly pose as ‘potential customers’ and discreetly signal clients who have missed appointments or are due for a Viral Load test. They ensure these clients are brought back into care, conducting pill counts, offering refills, and efficiently processing viral load samples.
The success of the ‘Jitume’ model and the unwavering efforts of the healthcare team have brought about a remarkable transformation at the Lokichar Health Centre. From just 87 active clients under care in March 2021, the facility has witnessed an impressive increase to 163 clients by June 2023, marking an 87% rise. Notably, 34 (21%) of these clients are KPs. Beyond the statistics, the ‘Jitume’ model has profoundly impacted lives, empowering individuals to take control of their health.
Furthermore, the facility team has achieved a significant milestone by forming a Community Anti-Retroviral Therapy Group (CARG) exclusively for Female Sex Workers in Ng’arturkana, aptly named the ‘Apiaro Ladies,’ meaning ‘Baraka’ in Swahili, symbolizing blessings and positive outcomes. Led by a dedicated champion, the HCWs facilitate regular visits to hotspots frequented by FSWs, ensuring essential resources like condoms and lubricants are provided. Additionally, the team offers adherence counselling, comprehensive clinical assessments, and health education sessions to promote preventive measures.
‘Jitume’ model serves as a beacon of hope and sets an example for healthcare professionals in the provision of HIV Prevention, Care, and Treatment services. The model has demonstrated that with dedication and determination, saving lives and making a significant difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS is achievable.
Author: Rose Betty Mukii, Amref Health Africa – USAID Imarisha Jamii