Members of the CHS Board led by Board Chair Dr Richard Ayah made a two-day visit to Siaya County where CHS is supporting HIV prevention, care and treatment through the PEPFAR funded SHINDA Project. Implementation of the SHINDA project is now at the mid-year mark for Year 1 and will run for a period of five years.
This visit was purposely planned to review project progress and further evaluate and respond to major day-to-day risks and challenges that the project is facing to ensure that the set targets are achieved. The Board also had deliberations with the project staff about new strategies and best practices that can be used for effective HIV epidemic control. TB active case finding at Siaya County Referral Hospital was also reviewed at length during a visit to the facility as TB is the number one killer disease among people living with HIV.
Kenya is one of the four HIV ‘high burden’ countries in Africa. In 2015, about 1.5 million people were living with HIV infection with an estimated 71,034 new HIV infections among adults and about 6,613 new infections among children annually. Siaya contributed to 8.3% of the total number of people living with HIV in Kenya, with a prevalence that is nearly 4.2 times higher than the national prevalence at 24.8% (Kenya HIV Estimates 2015).
In light of this, increased efforts towards epidemic control cannot be overemphasized. Among the new strategies that CHS is employing is the Expanded HIV Testing Services (HTS) optimisation through targeted HTS testing like family-partner testing. This is a best practice that has been recognized and highlighted by the U.S Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and comes highly recommended for all HIV implementing partners.
With the support of PEPFAR through CDC, CHS is optimistic that it will promote quality care through much needed repairs of 10 of the 119 health facilities that CHS supports. Among the facilities set for repair are: Bondo Sub County Hospital, Mulaha Dispensary, Umala Dispensary, Urenga Dispensary, Ukwala Sub-County Hospital, Urenga Dispensary and Ambira Sub County Hospital. The Board visited these facilities and assessed their state to determine the extent to which this is affecting project outcomes.
Speaking during the visit, Chief Executive Officer Dr Paul Wekesa said that CHS remains committed to working together with the Siaya County Government and other HIV control partners to turn the tide of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Siaya County. “We want to build a strong foundation and ensure dynamic and innovative approaches in HIV control,” he said. Similarly, CHS Board Chair Dr Ayah reiterated that CHS has undertaken a huge task and will remain committed to deliver the best services so as to demonstrate that HIV epidemic control is possible.
The CHS Board also made a courtesy call to the County Health Management Team (CHMT) offices where they pledged to work together with the county for the duration of the project underscoring the importance of mutual partnership.
The SHINDA project is implementing a significant sub-grant in six sub counties namely: Rarienda, Gem, Bondo, Alego Usoga, Ugenya and Ugunja. Through the sub-grant, CHS is supporting a health workforce of about 700 health workers of various cadres and 200 volunteers living with HIV as mentor mothers. The project also supports laboratory networking services and supervision done jointly with the County Department of Health. So far, the project has identified about 1,800 new people living with HIV.