Community Adherence Group Welcomes USAID Representatives from Windhoek and Washington
A Tonata Community Adherence Group (CAG) in Oshikoto region recently had the opportunity to receive and welcome representatives from USAID. In its effort to put an end to the HIV epidemic in Namibia, USAID has partnered with Tonata to scale up the CAG project, whereby ART patients organize themselves into groups and are able to send a representative to health facilities to collect medication on behalf of the entire group, saving time and cost of transportation. USAID recently made a site visit to Oshikoto region to engage care providers and the community to understand challenges they face on the ground. To this end, the USAID representatives met with the Community Adherence Group in Oshikoto region to hear directly from the beneficiaries of the project. Members of the group have been enrolled in the program since November of 2018, and expressed gratitude for the program. They distances that they need to travel to get their medication has been greatly reduced, and being part of a group, they are able to provide support and encouragement for each other to remain adherent to the their treatment.
Additionally, through the group they have received training on the establishment of a savings and loan club in order to build their own savings, and create a pool of money for investing in income generating projects for the group. When asked what could be improved about the project, the only suggestion was to expand the project to include receiving other medications and services on the same community based model, which is a clear endorsement of the benefit they receive. After about an hour of questions and discussion about the program, and how they are faring with the drought, the representatives sampled local eembe fruit and oshikundu, a drink made by lightly fermenting millet (similar to kombucha), expressed their thanks for the groups time, and departed. The USAID delegation also visited two medical facilities in Oshikoto region to see how the facilities have successfully decentralized ART distribution within the health district, and were projected to visit a DREAMS program, which is a health and empowerment program for adolescent girls and young women implemented by Project Hope Namibia.