Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Mufindi Today 'CTC day'
Today was "CTC day" at Mdabulo. 8 times a month the Care and Treatment Clinic (CTC) at Mdabulo Health Dispensary holds a clinic for people who are HIV positive. These people living with HIV receive full treatment at the clinic on these days. The patients receive ARVs here in Mdabulo, they have their CD4 checked periodically here in Mdabulo, and they receive full counseling and psycho-social services right here in Mdabulo. All of the services for HIV treatment are available in the village! This availability of services hasn't always been the norm, but the progress made in just the past few years has been astounding. Just five years ago, in 2007, things were drastically different, and comparatively bleak. The closest Hospital to our project area is over 50km away (30 miles) in the district capital of Mafinga. This was also where patients had to travel in order to even be tested for HIV in many cases, or to receive treatment of any kind. In July of 2007, Foxes' NGO volunteers Patrick and Kate Ney, organized a fund that helped patients receive free transport to Mafinga for HIV treatment. Previously, people living with HIV would have to pay around $9 to travel to Mafinga and back for treatment. This cost was prohibitively too high for many who survived by subsistence farming, living off of less than a dollar a day. The transport itself was an arduous marathon, where one was required to meet the bus at 4:30am only to take four hours to travel the 50km to Mafinga during the dry season, and up to eight hours or more during the rainy season depending on the condition of the roads. Even as a private car was hired to go to town more regularly, the cars were crammed with people, and the journey no less taxing. After only two months of this service being available, over 200 people were registered for free transport to get treatment for HIV. While it was encouraging to see the stigma of HIV lifted from the community now that treatment was more accessible, transporting 200 people monthly was no longer a practical, or sustainable option. On April 21st, 2008, Mdabulo Health dispensary hosted its first CTC day. The staff from the district (Mafinga) Care and Treatment Clinic came to the village to administer HIV treatment. On that day in April, 171 patients received their treatment including anti-retro viral treatment, without having to travel to the district capital. Twice a month the staff from Mafinga came to serve the patients in our area. Within weeks the CTC day had over 400 people coming each day, and in a very short time over 1000 people were registered for treatment through the Mdabulo site. This too became overwhelming, and plans started to build a Care and Treatment Clinic in the village, for the village, that would give treatment more often and improve quality of care. In January of 2009 we broke ground on a new building to be placed next door to the existing dispensary at Mdabulo. 18 months later the Mdabulo Care and Treatment Clinic had an official certification number from the government, and was therefore able to run independently, and as often as needed. The staff from the district CTC from Mafinga continued to help in the beginning, but by October 2010, the Mdabulo CTC was a stand-alone facility run entirely by local staff. Sadly just months before this breakthrough, one of our children from the Igoda Children's Village fell through the cracks of the overwhelmed system and hadn't had her CD4 examined even as her health was declining. The over-worked staff from Mafinga repeatedly forgot to bring her treatment file to Mdabulo on CTC day, and her condition worsened. When she finally went to a private hospital to have her CD4 tested for the first time, her count was 2. It was all too much for her system, an she passed away on June 26th, 2010. In her honour Canadian friends of ours, Don and Ruth James, began the process of equipping Mdabulo with its very own CD4 machine. This would allow for full treatment to take place at the facility in Mdabulo, thereby virtually eliminating any chance for another patient to fall through the cracks. In March of 2011, the machine was purchased and delivered along with 1000 reagents for testing, and the Mdabulo CTC had its final crown jewel in place. Now, the Mdabulo CTC has over 2,000 patients getting their CD4 tested at the facility. It has been a fast evolution from virtually no treatment available, to full treatment completely accessible in the village. From virtually no one being tested and treated to thousands of patients being served at the facility. From an incredible stigma bringing down any talk of HIV awareness, and preventative education, to a community coming together to teach each other about how this disease can be beaten. Last year over 1000 people attended our World AIDS Day event where the message was surrounding the goal of having no new stigma, no new infections, and no new deaths from HIV. With the advancements made in just a few short years here in Mufindi, one starts to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the possibility for those goals to become reality.