Saturday, 13 October 2018

Zambia Pilots Digital Provision Of ART Services

US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote (left) displays
the smart care card in Ndola. -Picture courtesy of the
US Embassy Facebook page
By Paul Shalala in Ndola

With the advancement in technology and the implementation of Smart Zambia, the Ministry of Health has also gone digital.

Gone are the days when clinics and hospitals in Ndola used to keep paper files for people living with HIV and AIDS.

These files had information on the client’s viral load, health condition and how often they are accessing Anti-Retroviral  drugs (ARVs).

Today, the Ministry of Health is piloting smart care, a system which allows people living with HIV to swipe and collect drugs.

In a project spearheaded by Equip Health Zambia, a United States government funded project, this new system is revolutionizing service delivery in the health sector.

Using this pharmacy card, clients can walk to either a private pharmacy or a government clinic to access these life saving drugs.

The whole process is now digital and there is no more paperwork involved.

At Lubuto Clinic, the programme has already been unvieled.

"We have already been connected here. Clients come here and we record all details on this system using the smart card. Then they can collect the drugs anywhere where the cards are accepted," said Sianga Sianga, a Strategic Information Assistant at the clinic.

Smart care has become so efficient that authorities are now thinking of extending it beyond its current reach.

Even the stigma which came with people living with HIV queuing for drugs at clinics has now been done away with.

"We no longer have queues here. People just come with their cards, they are attended to and leave," added Mr Sianga.

United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote recently visited a Medical Stores warehouse in Ndola where smart care is being implemented.

Here, the envoy was taken through the whole process of the smart care system.

"So if am a patient, i come with this card and present to you, is it very effective?" asked the envoy.

The Ambassador was briefed that the system has been so effective that authorities wish it can be extended to other facilities.

So far, 14 government clinics and hospices as well as six private pharmacies are using smart care to deliver ARVs to their clients.

Private pharmacies at Kansenshi, Rekays, Kafubu, Villa and Jacaranda Malls are now connected to smart care and people living with HIV go there to collect these life saving drugs.

Meanwhile, the United States government will invest US$385 million in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Zambia this year.

United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says the American government is investing close to $400 million dollars in the health sector to ensure that access to health is increased.

Speaking at the launch of the 2018 US President's Emmergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Country Operational Plan in Ndola's Kantolomba Compound, Mr Foote said the money being invested will help patients reduce distances they cover to access health services.
Dr Chilufya commissions the Kantolomba Clinic as US Ambassador
to Zambia Daniel Foote looks on -Picture courtesy of
Ministry of Health Facebook page

He said the investment will also help in reducing congestion at health centers when patients go to access medical help.

The American envoy also disclosed that his government has so far invested US$ 3.5 billion dollars in the last 15 years in Zambia to fight HIV and AIDS.

Mr Foote noted that Zambia's leadership in the fight against the disease is very commendable.

And Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya described the United States as Zambia's number one strategic ally in epidemic control.

Dr Chilufya said the American government has been very helpful especially in infrastructure development which has led to the increase in health delivery.

The Health Minister said the US$385 million the United States Government is investing in Zambia will help the country meet its health targets.

Dr Chilufya says the first task under the funded programs will be to escalate HIV interventions among adolescents both male and female.

The Health Minister said the American funding will help increase the number of people on Anti-Retroviral Therapy from the current 890,000 to 1.2 million by 2020.

He further disclosed that no allowances will be paid to health workers as they implement health programs funded by the US government.

Dr Chilufya says health workers have a salary and no allowances will be paid to them in order to ensure the money is used for the intended purpose.

1 comment:

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