Fighting Pediatric AIDS in Uganda
October 6, 2011
Deep in southwestern Uganda, nestled in a small hook of land that dips below the rest of the country into an area bordering Rwanda and Tanzania, sits Ntungamo District, a community profoundly affected by the AIDS epidemic.
It’s in Ntungamo, and 12 other districts in southwestern Uganda, that the Foundation is collaborating with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the government of Uganda, and other partners in an innovative HIV prevention, care, and treatment initiative called STAR-SW, “Strengthening TB and HIV/AIDS Response in the South-Western Region of Uganda.” A core focus of the program is to prevent, care, and treat HIV/AIDS with a goal to support the elimination of pediatric AIDS in southwestern Uganda.
Photo: James Pursey
STAR-SW recently celebrated its launch at a central Ntungamo health facility called Kitwe Health Clinic IV. Kitwe is emblematic of STAR-SW’s work, and of the commitment of its partners, community, and beneficiaries.
Following last week’s National Pediatric HIV/AIDS Conference in Uganda, and in celebration of STAR-SW's accomplishments so far, the Foundation’s blog will host a series of posts about the Kitwe Health Clinic IV and other area clinics, and the people that make these clinics fixtures for a community fighting AIDS. In the series, we’ll hear from different voices essential to the success of these clinics – a doctor in charge, beneficiaries of HIV services, support groups, and a HIV/AIDS counselor.
In our first post below, get a glimpse in to the everyday activities of a busy Ugandan clinic and see how these activities are contributing to a shared goal to eliminate pediatric AIDS.
You can also click here to learn more about the STAR-SW program and our work in Uganda
Fighting Pediatric AIDS in Uganda – The Successes and Challenges to Managing a Growing Clinic
The first blog in our “Fighting Pediatric AIDS in Uganda” series comes from Dr. Dennis Kisha, the doctor in charge at Kitwe Health Clinic IV. Dr. Kisha manages the clinic’s operations, ensuring patients receive the services they need, and that the clinic is successfully supporting the Ntungamo community. Below, Dr. Kisha discusses program challenges and improvements since the initiation of the STAR-SW program.
Sanyu Nkiinzi is a Communications and Outreach Officer for the Foundation, based in Uganda.
Dr. Kisha at work. (Photo: James Pursey)
I have been the doctor in charge at the Kitwe Health Centre IV in Ntungamo district, Uganda for three months. Before this I was a medical officer in Mulago hospital, Uganda’s national referral hospital in Kampala, where I was a general practitioner specializing in gynecology and emergency surgery.
Dr. Kisha. (Photo: James Pursey)
At Kitwe, we offer a wide range of integrated health services. Our challenge is to generate community awareness about these services. To encourage involvement, we run regular clinic days and outreach workshops on specific health issues. These events are invaluable, as many people must walk long distances to visit the clinic, and when they understand all of the services we are able to provide, they are more likely to continue regular visits.
The integrated services we offer include prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services, HIV counseling, clinical health evaluations, CD4 count testing, HIV testing, medicine distribution, pediatric care, tuberculosis services, circumcision, and general health exams and services.
Our small staff of 32 deals with around 200 clients a day during clinic days. In total, we provide services to 230,000 in the local community – an impressive number of individuals.
Since the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation arrived, our outreach service has vastly improved. Their involvement has enabled us to better educate the community about health issues and services we offer. Additionally, the Foundation has provided us with new medical equipment, including a CD4 testing machine that generates faster testing results, maximizing the number of people we can see and lessening the waiting time for our clients.
As we grow, we still face many challenges. Many of our clients lack the transportation necessary to get to our clinic for regular visits. Also, there is still a stigma in the community that discourages women to seek services, and a general lack of awareness of safe sexual practices and the types of services a program like ours offers. We are combating this with community sensitization through our outreach services and events, and through staff workshops in HIV service management, information dissemination and education workshops.
- Dr. Dennis Kisha