Impact of Aidsfonds COVID Response Funding in Uganda

Impact of Aidsfonds COVID Response Funding in Uganda

“Our main goal is to retain mothers and children in HIV care amidst COVID-19 challenges”. Says Richard Ochen, Executive Director of Health Need Uganda, whose organisation applied for a grant from the Aidsfonds COVID Response Fund. What activities and strategies have been undertaken with the funding to achieve this goal? Richard tells us all.

What activities have been carried out?

“Health Need Uganda had been granted a travel permit by the local district authorities. This permission enables us to move and to visit communities in four sub-counties.  What we have achieved in the past few weeks up to now:

Community health workers provide accurate COVID information

So far in two districts 764 people are sensitized and reached with COVID messages. 40 existing community health volunteers provide accurate COVID information to people living with or vulnerable to HIV, and issue education materials and personal protection commodities. Together with the governmental district health officers we trained them on current COVID regulations and guidelines.

Distribution of emergency food items

Community health volunteers have conducted a mapping of families with children living with HIV who are likely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Based on this mapping we have distributed emergency food items to 58 families registered for food shortage and malnutrition. Many have been on lockdown in their homes without a source of livelihood.

Phone call meetings ensure continued treatment

Phones are a life-saving device especially these days. Through phone call contact we manage to reach out to people living with HIV to ensure continued access to essential HIV services and treatment. Furthermore, on weekly basis Health Need Uganda conducts over 100 phone call meetings with community health volunteers. We have introduced these calls to touch base with what is going on in the communities. It enables us to quickly respond to emergencies and information gaps, collect data and get updates on treatment support provided.”

Community health volunteer with community members

Which main issues emerged in the communities due to COVID?

“We noticed that several caretakers and children had missed appointments for medication refills, which causes an interruption of their treatment. This is because people are reluctant to leave home due to travel restrictions. They lack information how to reach their treatment service provider, often far away from their homes. Or they fear to get COVID infected while visiting the health facility.

Other issue that we have seen is poor nutrition among especially mothers and children in HIV care. Regular meals are crucial for effective treatment of HIV.

Furthermore, due to transport challenges as well as limited availability of protective wear, health workers are not able to regularly staff health facilities. The community health volunteers, some of them living with HIV, are themselves very much affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The source of livelihood for many of them have been affected by the restriction on movement since they are not allowed to travel to the weekly farmers’ market.”

What’s next?

“Health Need Uganda will keep tracing and following up on mothers and children in collaboration with the health facilities and community health volunteers. We are working directly with the district COVID-19 task force where all support for the district is coordinated. Our response is directly supervised by the District Health Officer who heads the health sector response and provides technical support in the response to COVID-19.”

The Aidsfonds COVID Response Fund

Aidsfonds launched the 'COVID Response Fund' to support existing Aidsfonds grantees and partners in their urgent work to reach people in need. Seven weeks in effect, 38 projects were approved in 24 countries, reaching almost 900,000 people vulnerable to HIV.

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