Friday, February 26, 2010

(HERALD) Govt decentralises ARV follow up

Govt decentralises ARV follow up
Herald Reporter

Government has decentralised follow-up treatment for people on anti retroviral drugs to ensure easy access.

HIV and TB Unit head in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Owen Mugurungi said initiation of new patients on ART would remain within hospitals but clinics and other health centres would be capacitated to provide the drugs.

Speaking at a National HIV Partnership forum meeting yesterday Dr Mugurungi said Government took the initiative to spread the ART programme.

He said the move would also limit time spent by patients waiting to get their monthly doses.

"We have decentralised collection of monthly anti-retroviral drugs doses to make sure treatment is nearer to our patients. Patients who are now stable can thus access the drugs at centres close to them.

"As Government we are focusing on training our health workers on providing and monitoring patients on ART so that our patients can not only access the drugs but minimise transport costs and time spent queuing for the drugs," he said.

Dr Mugurungi said Government would strengthen mentorship of health workers to ensure quality retention during the programme.

He said the ministry had established 41 sites around Zimbabwe to monitor signs of drug resistance.

"As we decentralise we have put in place 41 sites that will act as early warning systems for drug resistance.

"They will specifically look for those who are being initiated on ARVs but are not returning to collect their monthly doses and areas were the drugs are always out of stock.

"This data will be used to come up with a mechanism that prevents possible cases of drug resistance," he said.

On the latest World Health Organisation guidelines for initiating patients on ARV, Dr Mugurungi said the implementation of the measure depended on the support of its partners.

Zimbabwe currently has more than 200 000 patients on ARVs and is targeting to put 250 000 on treatment before the end of 2011.

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