Tsumeb — Before the establishment of the Tuberculosis (TB) Directly-Observed Treatment (DOT) center service delivery initiative, which became operational in Tsumeb's Kuvukiland informal settlement towards the end of July last year, patients had to walk long distances to the hospital.
As a result, many people defaulted on their TB treatment, subsequently leading to a high number of defaulters.
"When we started here there was no electricity or water. There was no fencing around but we were so thankful that we could start somewhere because we had a high lost to follow up," said Sylvia Haoses, the Tsumeb district TB and Leprosy coordinator.
Senior Medical Officer at the Tsumeb District, Dr Jean Kalala Kabangu added that a burden has been lifted from the hospital since the establishment of the DOT point at Kuvukiland.
"Most of our patients are coming from Kuvukiland. We had times where patients were not coming for treatment due to the distance. If we can have a fully-fledged clinic there it would really assist a lot," added Kabangu.
Before the establishment of the DOT point at Kuvukiland, the area used to be a dumping site, added Kabangu. He explained that the area was unfit for to construct a proper clinic as it would cost government a lot.
The Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Namibia, Eric Atkins said accessing HIV care and treatment at the community level saves patients time and money, and increases the likelihood that patients will access health services and improves quality of life.
"From the perspective of the healthcare provider, it reduces pressure on district hospitals and improves the level of services provided through primary care," said Atkins.
As a result, the healthcare providers can focus their services on sick patients who are in greatest need of attention of a doctor or a nurse, he said.
However, one of the challenges is that sufficient clinic space, housing and dedicated areas for specific services is not always available.
The U.S President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through its agencies Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides support to the Ministry of Health and Social Services to increase its clinic space.
This is done through the provision of prefabricated structures that can be used as clinics, TB DOT sites, TB and HIV integrated services sites and modular housing for employees of the health ministry.
Through the Cooperative Agreement (COAG) with CDC, the US government has provided 65 prefab structures at 30 sites in six regions. These are Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kavango, Zambezi and Khomas.
"USAID, through its implementing partners KNCV and IntraHealth, have also supported the Ministry of Health and Social Services with the provision of prefabricated structures, providing a total of 45 units," said Atkins. The total funding provided for these projects is over N$38 million.