Working With The Rwandan Government To Fight HIV/AIDS

IntraHealth has been selected by USAID to lead the HIV/AIDS Clinical Services Program in Rwanda's Northern Zone—a five-year, $27.7 million dollar initiative to expand HIV/AIDS clinical services capacity for patient care in partnership with national and district-led Rwandan institutions. This represents one of the three awards awarded by USAID to support HIV/AIDS clinical services in 14 out of 30 districts in Rwanda.

IntraHealth has been working in Rwanda for nearly two decades and is also assisting the Rwandan government in USAID-funded efforts to strengthen human resources for health, develop the nursing and midwifery workforce in pre-service education, reduce maternal and child mortality, improve quality and accessibility of family planning services, fight malaria and make health care services more accessible. IntraHealth is working in 23 out of the 30 Rwandan districts through the Twubakane Health and Decentralization Program and the global Capacity Project, both funded by USAID.

IntraHealth will work with Rwanda's Ministry of Health and the Northern Zone's four districts (Gasabo, Gicumbi, Rulindo and Nyagatare) to improve the quality and availability of HIV/AIDS clinical services by ensuring health care providers excel in the necessary skills; integrating HIV/AIDS services from the national to the community level; linking facility services with communities to increase access; incorporating gender-sensitive services; and promoting leadership, management and accountability at the district level. The program will offer a full range of integrated HIV/AIDS services, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary counseling and testing, palliative and basic health care, treatment with antiretroviral therapy, and detection and treatment of tuberculosis—a common HIV/AIDS co-infection.

A primary program aim is to build and support the districts' capacity to continue the improved HIV/AIDS clinical services on their own by 2012. To achieve this goal, the program will strengthen national and district-level Rwandan institutions to support and manage each district's health network.

In addition to ensuring clinical excellence of services, the program will strive to increase access to services through such approaches as integrated family planning/reproductive health services, linking with community organizations, offering mobile services and addressing gender- and stigma-related barriers that keep individuals from seeking care. IntraHealth expects this program will ensure that all of the four district hospitals and health centers will provide the full range of HIV/AIDS clinical services. Antiretroviral therapy will be provided at the district hospitals and physicians will travel from those hospitals weekly to administer antiretroviral therapy at 50% of the health centers, mentoring health center nurses in care and treatment oversight.

IntraHealth also leads HIV/AIDS-related projects in several other sub-Saharan African countries, including Ethiopia and Tanzania. IntraHealth's experience in HIV/AIDS work, legacy in reproductive health and family planning, and familiarity with the Rwandan health care situation will be applied to this program's new challenges.

Funding for the HIV/AIDS Clinical Services Program in Rwanda comes through USAID from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. IntraHealth's partners on this program are the University of North Carolina's Center for Infectious Diseases, a leader in HIV/AIDS research and care; and Mildmay International, a U.K. faith-based organization with expertise in patient care and support in East Africa.