One of the health facilities in the Adamaoua Region of Cameroon, Ngaoubela Protestant Hospital, has begun linking HIV patients to care and treatment thanks to the intervention of Global Health Systems Solutions (GHSS) via training and mentorship.
Located in Tibati- Djérem Division, this health facility that follows up close to 500 HIV patients, with an average HIV monthly testing volume of 251 with a positive yield of 18, was hitherto not linking those who tested positive for HIV to care and treatment, according to a-GHSS baseline survey. This was attributed to the fact that most of the HIV positive patients tested at night when there was no psychosocial worker available to counsel and initiate treatment, and refused to come back for that after.
In a bid to salvage this situation, strengthen the health system and enhance quality, GHSS, with the support of PEPFAR/CDC, commenced the implementation of Quality Assurance (QA) activities in Ngaoubela Protestant Hospital in January 2021. A QA mentor was stationed at the site, who had a working session with the Hospital Director and consulting doctor, and recommended that consulting doctors should not release the hospital booklet of patients who test positive, until the linkage of these patients to care and treatment is initiated. The mentor also underscored the need for the telephone contacts of linkage agents to be printed and posted in the lab and doctors’ offices to call, in case of a positive client. This was accompanied by a continuous review of the QA registers by the mentor, to follow up and track the documentation of positive patients linked to treatment.
Data collected 3 months after the intervention of GHSS indicate that 33 out of 44 patients that tested positive for HIV, were linked to treatment. According to detail analysis, 5 of the 14 patients that tested positive in January 2021 were linked to treatment. In February 2021, the number of patients not linked to treatment further reduced as 6 out of 8 were linked. By March, 2021, all 22 patients that tested HIV positive were linked to treatment.
Thrilled by this achievement, the Assistant Laboratory Director of the Ngaoubela Protestant Hospital, Sopen Moustapha, expressed gratitude to GHSS for helping in the enhancement of quality results and services in her facility. “We have observed great improvement in the organization of our work and quality of results, especially in our laboratory since the coming of GHSS. Patients tested positive for the HIV are now linked to treatment and followed up; this was a real concern in our hospital before this Organization came in,” she added. Madam Sopen implored GHSS “to continue providing support that will keep improving on the quality systems of our health facility in particular, and others in general”.
Linking those that tested HIV positive to care and treatment is a very vital way of psychologically preparing the patients to accept their status, and guiding them on ways to live a healthy life. This linkage also provides moral support to the patients from hospital personnel and other persons living with HIV, through support groups.
The follow up of patient treatment and viral load monitoring to ensure effective treatment is very vital and leads to viral suppression. HIV patients that have attained viral suppression have significantly reduced chances of infecting others, thereby enhancing the attainment of the 95-95-95 UNAIDS target.