Successful pilot results in high ambitions to scale-up Thandizo approach

Successful pilot results in high ambitions to scale-up Thandizo approach

The Thandizo approach supports young people living with HIV to adhere to treatment. Piloted for two years in two districts of Malawi, evaluation shows that the number of young people with HIV who stopped treatment dropped from 478 to 96. Out of these 96 there were 89 young people managed to get back in care. After these successes our ambition is countrywide scale up!

What is the Thandizo approach?

Thandizo means ‘support’ in Chichewa language. The approach combines support groups with a mobile app. Community health workers and peer educators use the app in their consultations with young people. The data collected by the app provides insight in the needs of young people with HIV and the challenges they face in continuing treatment. This information is used to inform interventions.

The approach was piloted for two years in two Malawi districts. A mixed methods evaluation was conducted at the end of 2021. Apart from analysis of quantitative data collected by health centres a total of 66 people took part in interviews or focus group discussions.

How does it work?

The Thandizo risk assessment tool was co-created and tested with implementers and young people themselves. The app identifies risks for non-adherence, provides referrals, tips and advice based on individual needs. It is used in both group sessions with a peer educator or individual consultations with a community health worker. Young people receive information regarding treatment, adherence, healthy living, dealing with stigma, need for support, mental health support with the aim to adhere to their treatment, accept their HIV status, live healthy and feel more supported by people in their family and community.

Image of Thandizo App

Thandizo pilot results

The results showed that the Thandizo approach successfully increased treatment adherence. The number of young people living with HIV who were reported by their health facility to have stopped treatment dropped with 80% from 478 in 2019 to 96 in 2021. Moreover, out of these 96 there were 89 young people who were brought back to care.

“Before we started learning through the Thandizo App, each one of us thought being on ART, we would never be able to fall in love again… Through the interactions that we have with the mentor and amongst ourselves, such mindset is a thing of the past..” – Young person aged 24 - Chikwawa district

Besides increased treatment adherence the Thandizo approach resulted in multiple additional positive outcomes. Young people felt increased confidence due to the knowledge and skills they learned from the animation videos and quizzes. These also helped to debunk common misconceptions surrounding HIV. This contributed to increased feeling of self-worth and acceptance of the HIV status while also improving mental health in general. Young people felt encouraged to seek support from family and friends and often even decided to disclose their HIV status to them.

Future ambitions

After successfully piloting the Thandizo approach in Malawi ambitions to scale it up only grew. Together with Coalition of Women Living with HIV (COWLHA) we will therefore scale up to additional districts in Malawi. Our ambition is country wide scale up and therefore we need partners.

Interested to read more about the Thandizo pilot evaluation? Download the evaluation 4-pager. Or are you interested in partnering with Aidsfonds? Contact Carmen Roebersen, project manager Thandizo at Aidsfonds. uses cookies to offer the best website experience possible and to anonymously analyze website behaviour. More information.