A PROJECT seeking to end HIV/Aids in Mara Region by 2030 has kicked off with focus on increased testing and use of quality antiretroviral treatment.
Implemented by AMREF Health Africa in Tanzania, the USD50m “Afya Kamilifu project” is supported by the US President’s Emergency plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) in Tanzania in order to scale up HIV care and treatment efforts, joining global efforts to end AIDS by 2030.
The launch of the projects’ expansion in Mara Region was officiated recently by Musoma District Commissioner, Dr Khalfan Haule on behalf of Mara Regional Commissioner, Ally Hapi and was attended by a number of stakeholders, including CDC Tanzania’s representatives, Amref Health Africa Tanzania Management and Staff, civil society organisations, implementing partners, media, development partners, religious leaders and the private sector.
Speaking at the event, Dr Haule commended Amref, CDC, and the partners’ efforts in implementation the project.
“Having this project is a good step in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country, we appreciate the Ministry of Health who are at the driving force in this initiative, we are thankful for the working tools provided by CDC and AMREF that will be used by the project team in the region,” he said.
AMREF Health Africa Tanzania Country Director, Dr Florence Temu said the project seeks to increase the number of people living with HIV and AIDS who know their status through HIV testing and get long term and sustained quality antiretroviral treatment (ART) services and Viral Load testing to assure they attain viral suppression of undetectable level.
“At the end of the project, we expect all people living with HIV in the Mara region to know their status and receive treatment. The project will also strengthen systems of linking HIV positive individuals to care and treatment services and ensure the availability of well-functioning laboratory systems and support clinical HIV services in all health facilities” she said.
“The project will also introduce a robust real-time routine HIV data monitoring and reporting system using innovative technology that will ensure prompt availability of accurate and quality data from facility to the national level for decision making and global reporting. It is highly expected that these quality data reports would be used to support data management systems at the facility level and build capacity for data ownership and improved data management and utilization at facility health care workers and District Health Management Teams to identify HIV service delivery gaps and improve accordingly,” she added.
The Afya Kamilifu Project targets are built on the PEPFAR and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS fast track targets of 95-95-95 by 2030. The 95-95-95 model implies that by 2030, 95% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, while 95% of people who know their status are on lifelong antiretroviral treatment, and 95% of people on treatment attain the desired viral suppression.
“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appreciates the partnership and efforts of Amref’s Afya Kamilifu initiative to support programmes in Mara, Tanga, Simiyu and Zanzibar. We value the opportunity to partner with the Ministry of Health, regional officials, non-governmental and civil society organisations to jointly work to improve health outcomes in Tanzania,” said CDC representative, Dr Eva Matiko.
‘Afya Kamilifu’ Project is one of Amref’s health initiatives in Tanzania, which will contribute to reducing the country’s high burden of HIV and AIDS, whereby over 1.4 Million People Living with HIV which is 5% of 15 -64 years Tanzanians, according to the Tanzania HIV Impact Survey (THIS) 2016-17. Furthermore, the survey shows that the viral load suppression rate among the same age group in Tanzania is 87.0%.
The programme which is a collaboration with local government authorities in Mara Region, CDC, Amref Tanzania and other implementing partners; the University of Maryland- Baltimore and Tanzania Communication and Development Center will work together to control the HIV epidemic. Programmes will include targeted interventions to reach people leaving with HIV and keep them on treatment; early detection and treatment of tuberculosis (TB), comprehensive HIV testing, and expand coverage for HIV and TB medication, and effective prevention and infection control.
Article first published on IPPMedia, Tanzania.