Onandjamba-About 750 people living with HIV currently receive antiretroviral (ARV) medication through the newly implemented community-based refill model.
This system allows HIV-positive patients who are otherwise healthy to get their HIV medicines right in their own communities, without having to travel to a clinic every month.
The system will help patients get their medicine on a regular basis and not miss any doses and thus stay healthy.
According to American Ambassador to Namibia Thomas Daughton, who spoke at the launch of the model at Onandjama in Oshikoto Region yesterday, people who take their ARVs and periodically get checked ensure their viral load stays under control.
“It not only helps HIV-positive people live normal, healthy lives, but also prevents them from passing the virus on to others,” he said.
He added that Namibia has since long faced challenges in accessing ART, as well as the issue of chronic HIV caused by the sheer number of patients.
“Sometimes it’s the long distances patients have to travel to the nearest health facility to receive HIV services. Economic reality complicates those challenges too,” said the American ambassador.
Therefore the distribution model will now help to remove the economic and social barriers that make it difficult for people living with HIV, especially those living far from health facilities, to pick up their medicine on a regular basis and adhere to their treatment regime.
Now instead of making the community go to the pharmacy the new model brings the pharmacy to the community,which improves both treatment adherence and patient retention.
Support group representative Elly Dhikwa said they are grateful for the new distribution model because now a patient’s viral load is under control.
“We are now shining because we have access to ARV without any costs. We support each other among our support group. This is a good initiative,” enthused Dhikwa.
She said some of the people who are HIV-positive were not “free” to travel to get the medicine but now that fellow members are receiving the medicine, “they are free”.