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U.S. Ambassador meets TRY AGAIN Support Group – Onayena Constituency

The U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Her Excellency Lisa Johnson,visited Onayena Health Center in Onandjokwe District, Oshikoto region (Onayenaconstituency) on the 20th March 2018 to familiarize herself withCommunity Based HIV Treatment Services (CBHTS) programme. 

The key purpose of her visit was to learn about USAID/Namibia’s support to the health facility by visiting and engaging with health care workers, community health workers, support group and understand the challenges in delivering HIV services at the facility.
With the assistance of USAID Namibia, Tonata PLHIV Network has been advocating for the Ministry of Health to decentralize Antiretroviral (ARV) through support groups as stipulated in the National HIV Treatment Guideline (differentiated care model). 

Try Again Support Group is amongst the Tonata’s support groups that have started with community-based refill – two members collecting medicines (from the health facility) on behalf of the entire group.  This intervention removed the challenges of transportation cost (to and from the hospital), patients’ congestion at the health facility and improved adherence.

Her Excellency Lisa met the members of TRY AGAIN support groups to hear their experience with the Community Based Treatment.  The Chairperson, Selma Iimbili excitedly said “Some of the members faced challenges to refill due to lack of transportation fare, while the majority were discouraged by the long hours we used to stay at the hospital. We are happy now, everyone is adhering to his/her treatment because we refill under our tree, no more walking long distances”. 

 This support group was established in 2010 with only 8 members. With the introduction of the Community Based Antiretroviral Treatment (CBART) the membership has since increased to 18 members with only two male members. Only 10 members out of 18 in the support groups on treatment. At the moment, only adults refilling at the level of support groups. The management of TRY AGAIN support group urged the Ministry of Health to also work towards creating opportunities for the children (those not on adjusted weight) to start refilling with their guardians and parents at the support group.

“It does not help, me, as a mother, to receive my medicine at our group because I still need money to take my child to the health facility for refilling,” Said, one member

The U.S Ambassador assured the support group that the government of United States will continue to support community-based HIV Treatment to expand HIV prevention, care, and treatment services to areas of high HIV burden designated as PEPFAR priority regions and hotspot sites in order to achieve HIV epidemic control in Namibia. 

Tonata People Living with HIV Network announces that thirty two (32) support groups are refilling under Onandjokwe District Hospital. 

“As people in support groups, we should strategize to reach more men. It should be our priority to work with men. We should map out how to reach them” H.E Lisa

Senior Medical Officer, at Onandjokwe District, Dr.Saad, provided a brief explanation of general HIV/AIDS services and challenges in providing the service in the facility. While Nurse in Charge at Onayena Health Centre appreciated the member of TRY AGAIN Support group for being united and adhering well.