The recently concluded Expert Patient Programme, implemented in partnership with the Paediatric-Adolescent Treatment Africa network (PATA), aimed to improve access to, and quality of, treatment and care for 15,000 HIV-positive infants, children and adolescents in Zambia and Zimbabwe over three years. In fact, more than 21,000 beneficiaries were reached over the course of the project, exceeding the original target by 41%.
We are delighted to report that DFID’s Technical Review has given the project an overall rating of A+ in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and value for money, and noted that One to One Children’s Fund “deserve particular commendation for their efforts towards ensuring the sustainability of the project.”
As part of the project outputs, we have produced a comprehensive manual/toolkit in the form of a book, which has been sent to more than 400 clinics in the PATA network, on working with community health workers and peer supporters.
Building on learning from One to One’s previous work such as REACH, the Expert Patient Programme engaged 62 Peer Supporters as positive role models – people with first-hand knowledge and experience of living with HIV, able to relate to the fears and concerns of caregivers and HIV-positive children and adolescents. These Peer Supporters provided an essential task-shifting role in clinics by performing non-professional tasks such as checking in patients or weighing and measuring babies, thus releasing busy health professionals to focus on clinical services. In addition, Peer Supporters expanded psychosocial support services and provided vital education in their local communities, acting as a bridge between community and clinic.
- The project successfully increased the number of infants, children and adolescents initiated on anti-retroviral drugs, retained in care and receiving a quality service in 16 targeted clinics across Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- More than 21,000 beneficiaries were reached over the course of the project, exceeding the original target by 41%.
- A large majority of the 16 participating clinics rated the contribution of their 62 Peer Supporters as “highly beneficial” or “vital”.
- The use of task-shifting and task-sharing to improve the provision of HIV services where trained professionals are scarce proved to be both cost efficient and effective.
- 100% of participating clinics reported “very good performance” of Peer Supporters in delivering community care to people living with HIV.
- Key lessons from the project were written up and disseminated extensively, both nationally and internationally, helping to promote the Peer Supporter model.