New programme accelerates roll out of paediatric HIV medication

New programme accelerates roll out of paediatric HIV medication

Aidsfonds and SAfAIDS have joined hands to accelerate access to the groundbreaking newly available paediatric Dolutegravir in Zimbabwe. This medicine has become available with a generic version approved in March 2021. The child-friendly formula has proven to be more effective in suppressing the viral load in children living with HIV. Therefore the new programme ‘The promise of paediatric Dolutegravir’ aims to contribute to transitioning all children in our communities on HIV treatment to paediatric DTG. 

Why is paediatric DTG such a game-changer?

“Unlike previous regimens, paediatric Dolutegravir only needs to be taken once daily with its dispersible formulation,” Musa Hove of SAfAIDS explains. “Scientific evidence shows that it has significantly lower side effects than other medication, increasing adherence. Above all, its non-requirement of a cold chain supply really responds to the needs of low income countries where cold chain supply requirements remain a challenge.”

“Until recently, Dolutegravir was only used for adults and was not available for children as the medicine did not come in smaller doses. The 10mg version is now available, which provides the right treatment for young children between four weeks and five years old. The new regulatory approval of the paediatric Dolutegravir 10mg formulation will finally enable access to the preferred WHO treatment to all children living with HIV, transforming paediatric HIV treatment.” Sabrina Erné of Aidsfonds adds. “There is significant work required. Unitaid, CHAI, PEPFAR, Global Fund, AfroCAB, EGPAF, WHO and other stakeholders partnered to ensure that children are able to have access to paediatric Dolutegravir at country level. As Aidsfonds, we support our partner organisations to make sure that the new formulation reaches the children in our communities as quickly as possible. Therefore we started this new programme ‘The promise of paediatric Dolutegravir’ in Zimbabwe.”

What is needed for an effective roll out in Zimbabwe?

The Ministry of Health and Child Care of Zimbabwe is conducting the roll out of paediatric Dolutegravir in a phased approach starting with 13 learning sites, through support from the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). The roll out began in June 2021.

Based on its experience in working with communities, SAfAIDS is well positioned to support the Ministry for the successful national roll out of paediatric Dolutegravir. Frontline health workers, who ensure to find and enrol children in HIV care, need to be equipped with necessary information and skills. Aidsfonds supports this financially.

children saying thanks

What role does SAfAIDS play in the roll out?

Firstly, SAfAIDS supports capacity building of frontline health service providers in the pilot roll out of paediatric Dolutegravir for the initial 13 sites. This will strengthen the competent roll out of paediatric Dolutegravir according to WHO guidelines and inform national scale up. Secondly, SAfAIDS will support the development and adaptation of a treatment literacy manual for health service providers and the community. The manual will provide detailed information on paediatric Dolutegravir regimen use as per WHO guidelines, its efficacy and effectiveness.

Musa: “I believe that SAfAIDS can be one of the key partners that influence a national paediatric Dolutegravir scale up strategy, based on our vast wealth of experience and understanding of communities and their needs.”

How does paedatric Dolutegravir contribute to the 95-95-95 targets?

Paediatric Dolutegravir is now made available in Benin, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe, with financial support from Unitaid. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) optimization is a key pillar in the AIDS Free agenda: to reach the goal of ensuring that 95% of all children living with HIV known to have HIV, have access to life-saving treatment. 

Paediatric Dolutegravir is one of the best new developments in HIV medicines for children in the past 10 years. Effective, safe and dispersible.

Musa Hove is the Country Representative for SAfAIDS in Zimbabwe. Musa oversees all Zimbabwe Country programme operations, ensuring that they are effective in responding to the needs of communities.

As long-term partner of Aidsfonds, SAfAIDS has been involved in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission as well as paediatric HIV programming in Zimbabwe. Since 2018, SAfAIDS has collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to carry out the Aidsfonds funded Find, Test and Treat community-based programme across 3 high priority districts.

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