MORE than 3 200 people in eight health districts now receive their HIV medication through 322 Community Adherence Groups.
Ambassador f the United States of America to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said Community Adherence Groups (CAGs) are a real community achievement, as they have saved lives.
According to the ambassador, the Yambidhidha Mukweni support group is playing a vital role in looking after the more than 3 200 people in eight health districts.
“Thanks to the CAGs, patients are now able to get their HIV medication in their villages, saving them time and money. Through these groups, the work of staying healthy and on treatment becomes a shared responsibility,” said Johnson.
She also stated that the decision to come together has made it easier for them to stay on treatment and to support each other in overcoming challenges.
Johnson noted that before these groups began, they had to travel to Oshikuku to get their ARVs which is more than an hour away that took time and money. Many also had to leave their house, field, children and animals while traveling long distance and standing in queues at a busy health facility.
Omusati governor Erginus Endjala, in a speech read on his behalf, said that HIV was considered as the number one killer back in the 1990-2000, but it has decrease now.
According to Endjala, many of the people have no food to take with medication, due to the prevailing drought the country is facing.
Among other challenges, Endjala stated that despite traveling long distance to get medication, many of the people are discourage by revival churches not to take their medicine, but rather throw away and get told to come to church for prayers to get heal, while some people are taking too much alcohol and at the which can’t work together with the medication.
Speaking to Informanté Chairperson of the Yambidhidha Mukweni support group, Hendrina Ishulu, said that service was brought closer to the people and making it easier for those that used to travel long distance.
“Many of the people used to travel as far as Oshikuku to get access to medication,” said Ishulu.
According to her, in 2012, the service was brought to Onaanda and later a clinic was opened in Onkani, which was aimed to benefit the community of Ondjungulume in the Otamanzi constituency.
To date 3 out of 58 groups in Oshikuku originated from the Onkani, whereby 479 are active clients registered.
The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds the activities of the CAGs, supporting Tonata, which is a network of people living with HIV.