09 February 2017, Juba, South Sudan – WHO in partnership with Ministry of Health are strengthening capacity to provide comprehensive HIV prevention, care and treatment services to populations of humanitarian concern in the Greater Upper Nile region, that is heavily affected by the current crisis. Health workers including medical doctors/ clinical officers, nurses, counselors, pharmacist and data clerk are equipped with the necessary skills and supplies on HIV treatment and prevention.
In South Sudan Tuberculosis (TB)//HIV/AIDS has remained the leading causes of death among displaced populations. Access to quality TB and HIV prevention, care and control services is extremely low in IDP settlements.
According to the most recent estimates, about 180 000 people are living with HIV in the country. The prevalence rate is estimated at around 2.6%. Currently less than 15% of people living with HIV know their status, of which about 20 000 have access to HIV treatment.
Although early responses to ART have been found to be generally good, deteriorating security situation has led to high rates of loss to follow-up and many ART clinics are straining under the sheer number of patients. Inadequate hhealth worker capacity coupled poor coordination is one of the key challenges limiting access to HIV lifesaving treatment in the country. Hence, capacity building of health providers in the humanitarian setting, strengthening partnership and coordination of health partners is top health and humanitarian priority in South Sudan.
The approach aims to include all tiers of the health system across broad geographic regions to implement standardized systems of delivering and monitoring treatment in a very challenging environment.
“In spite of the limited resources available in the country, expanding access to ART using the public health approach (including decentralization, task shifting, simplification and standardization) and community and patient engagement is vital to increase access to treatment” says Dr Abdulmumini Usman, WHO Representative to South Sudan.
In accordance with the national guidelines, practical guide to assist the team (who will be engaged in establishing HIV treatment centres in each of the facilities in Greater Upper Nile Region) on chronic HIV care and basic ART, including initiation, support and monitoring; management of common symptoms and signs with an emphasis on opportunistic infections; counseling and support relevant to HIV care and ART adherence; tools related to HIV chronic care and drug supply management, including ordering HIV drugs for facilities are also utilized.
Prevention of HIV infection, retention of patients in chronic care, and retention of health care providers need urgent attention for effective and sustainable HIV/AIDS and health systems responses in the long term. WHO will continue to support the Ministry of Health and partners for a comprehensive and sustainable HIV/ AIDS and health systems response.
With the support from the Global Fund to Fight Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria (GFTAM), the Government of South Sudan introduced its Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) programme with the goal of reducing HIV-related morbidity and mortality. Since 2006, 35 health facilities are delivering ART to about 17 000 patients.
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