Interpersonal Communication Training for CAGs
CAG Leaders receiving important health information
Tonata PLHIV Network is now entering into the second year of its implementation of the Community Adherence Group (CAG) Project. This is a joint effort between Tonata, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, and USAID to accelerate the formation of CAGs in eight health districts in Omusati, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, and Kavango East regions. The purpose of these groups is to make the refilling of ART medication simple, reliable, and effortless for its members, thereby improving the long term viral suppression of HIV. However, Tonata’s support groups do not just provide easy access to treatment, but they offer holistic support to the members of the group, including psycho-social and emotional support, and opportunities for group income generation.
In the second year of implementation, Tonata is focusing on strengthening these holistic supports. One strategy for doing so is by delivering Interpersonal Communication Training. This training is delivered to the CAG leaders, who will then bring the training back to their group. This training provides an opportunity to troubleshoot any issues arising within groups, both interpersonal and in regards to Tonata/MoHSS proceedures for refill and data reporting. These sessions will be an opportunity to review CAG proceedures and troubleshoot issues, and to receive valuable health empowerment information on topics such as viral load testing, TB, and cervical cancer. So far, these trainings have been implemented in Omuthiya and Onanjokwe districts, with other districts to follow.
Keeping the group active and engaged
Stigma and discrimination remains a large barrier for people to access their ART treatment. With improved advocacy skills and health knowledge, Tonata support groups and CAGs will continue to push to be part of HIV and AIDS programming, planning, and implementation. Their participation in constituency and regional decision making bodies is essential to ensuring that interventions are actually addressing the needs of PLHIV at the grassroots level. These one day workshops are complemented by ongoing IPC training sessions done by district level CAG Coordinators with each group, meaning that Tonata’s members are increasingly able to advocate for their needs, influence programming, and improve health outcomes for community members throughout their constituencies and regions.