ADOLESCENCE CHAMPIONSHIP – AN INITIATIVE TO IMPROVE THE FOLLOW UP FOR CHILDREN LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS

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In Cameroon, antiretroviral drugs consumed by people living with HIV/AIDS is provided free of charge, but patients need to show up in the treatment center for follow up and refill according to their appointment dates.

All patients who pick up medications at a treatment center follow a laid down circuit. The circuit may look like this: sorting of patients file, recording of vital signs (temperature, weight, blood pressure etc), one-on-one meeting with a psychosocial counsellor to ascertain patients’ health challenges while consuming the drugs, consulting with a medical doctor (if need be), then finally go to the dispensing unit for drugs refill.

This circuit looks quite long and is not accommodative for children living with HIV/AIDS because they have to be in school Mondays to Fridays and the time for their follow-up and drug refill coincides with their classes.

Secondly, psychosocial counsellors, nurses and medical doctors need enough time meeting these children one-on-one to closely monitor them.

Considering these challenges, an initiative dubbed “Adolescence Championship” has been developed for children living with HIV/AIDS. The meeting sessions hold every Saturdays according to age brackets at the treatment center. Small halls with colourful educative charts and drawings on the walls have been made available by hospital management and partners to host the children. During Saturday sessions, these children meet their peers, play together, get to know each other, share experiences and encourage one another. This practice has helped to reduce stigma amongst the children and enabled them to stay on treatment because they see the special care given to them. The initiative is good and working in treatment centers in the South West Region of Cameroon. It is recommended to other treatment centers of Cameroon.  

References:

  • PEPFAR – Cameroon: Country Operational Plan (COP/ROP) 2019. Strategic Direction Summary. May 10 2019
  • UNAIDS and UNICEF 2016 progress report: All in to end the adolescent AIDs epidemic. December 2016.

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