In Mozambique, almost 25% of deaths are on account of HIV/AIDS. The situation there is so serious that in 2004 the government declared it a national emergency.
To help combat the disease in the country, Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) along with patients recently came up with the Community Anti-Retroviral Therapy Groups (CAGs) pilot programme. CAGs are made up of HIV-positive patients, of whom one each month collects and distributes antiretroviral drugs from the clinic to the others. For patients who are stable on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, this model reduces transport costs and provides an incentive for patients to take greater responsibility for their own health and be active partners in healthcare delivery. It also, more importantly, helps build and strengthen social networks and peer support, which are key factors in ensuring adherence to treatment.
This model has so far had highly successful outcomes, with only 0.2% of 1,384 patients not following up with treatment. This has led to the Ministry of Health deciding to roll out the CAGs across the country. Mozambique has further plans to improve access to HIV/AIDS treatment and to bring ARV treatment to 80% of people who need it (up from the current rate of 45%). The governments of neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi have also visited the pilot programme to assess its feasibility for their own settings.
In this video by MSF we see Ivone, a mother of four from Mozambique who makes a living by baking bread and getting her son to sell it at the market. She is HIV-positive but has managed to overcome the stigma, and rather than being an outcast still lives with and looks after her whole family. She says that she is learning to live with the disease and as continues with her treatment. She sees fellow-sufferers in her community or even further afield as “brothers and sisters” and has welcomed the communal aspect of her treatment.
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