04 Jun 2017 19:00pm
ONANDJAMBA, 04 JUN (NAMPA) - More than 700 people living with HIV are receiving and refilling their antiretroviral (ARV) medication using the community-based anti-retroviral therapy refill (C-BART) model in Namibia.
This was said by United States Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton at Onandjaba village in the Oshikoto Region on Thursday, where he addressed members of the Onyaanya Gwaanaka Support Group.
The 750 people who make use of the C-BART model include members of the Onyaanya Gwaanaka Support Group and the Let Us Unite Support Group from the Engela Health District in the Ohangwena Region.
The programme is supported by the US Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Daughton said C-BART allows HIV-positive patients who are otherwise healthy to get their medication in their own communities, meaning they do not have to travel to a clinic every one to three months.
As C-BART makes it easier for them to get their medication, it also makes it easier to take the medicine regularly.
People living with HIV in Namibia have long faced challenges in accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) and chronic HIV care, Daughton noted.
Challenges include long waiting times at health facilities caused by the high number of patients and the long distances patients often have to travel to the nearest health facility to receive HIV care.
Daughton went on to say economic realities complicate the challenges as patients lose productive work time while waiting at the clinic and some of patients lack the money to pay for transportation, food and even administrative fees for health services.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 published new guidelines recommending that stable patients should get ARV refills in their own communities.
In short, instead of making the community go to the pharmacy, C-BART brings the pharmacy to the community, Daughton said.
He also indicated that 96 support groups have been sensitised and enrolled into the programme, while more than 1 400 people living with HIV, who are members of these groups, have registered and agreed to participate in the C-BART.
A member of the Onyaanya Gwaanaka Support Group, Elly Dhikwa said C-BART has addressed the issue of HIV patients who before defaulted on their treatment, mainly due to the long distances to the nearest health facility.
We no longer have to wait in long queues at Onandjokwe Hospital, which is some 40 kilometres away, said Dhikwa, who has lived with HIV for the past 23 years.
The support group has 25 members, only one of them male. Fourteen of the members benefit from C-BART.