We want clients to have information about DSD models that exist at their health facilities to enable them to demand enrolment in DSD models. That’s why it is important that clients have the correct knowledge of DSD eligibility criteria
We spoke with Lourenço Sumbane from the Civil Society Platform for Health in Mozambique (PLASOC-M).
Lourenço, how did you become involved in the HIV response?
I got involved in the HIV response after the death of a family member who was living with HIV and faced treatment interruptions due to poor service at the health facility. I joined other young people to work towards improving the quality of life of people living with HIV in our neighbourhood.
To reduce the number of new HIV acquisitions, we created the Association for Rehabilitation and Social Integration (ARISO), which defends the rights of prisoners living with HIV. A friend who was arrested reported prisoners were dying from HIV-related complications and that they were treated inhumanely. That was a great motivation for me to get into activism.
What is your role at the Civil Society Platform for Health in Mozambique (PLASOC-M)?
My role is to support the coordination of DSD-related health communication and demand creation at the national level. I have gained extensive experience in the functioning of civil society and the health system, working with a range of organizations that focus on target populations (people living with HIV, key populations, young people, and other vulnerable groups).
What is PLASOC-M’s mission and how does it relate to DSD?
We advocate for improvement of the quality of health for Mozambicans, as well as reduction of HIV acquisitions and HIV-related deaths. To fulfil this mission, we have developed coordination and training activities for member organizations. The objective of this training is to influence the Ministry of Health to make provisions for the meaningful engagement of people living with HIV in the planning, design, implementation and monitoring of HIV policies.
Activity reports of PLASOC-M and the ministry show that there are high rates of treatment interruption. We identified one of the reasons as the fact that clients do not have information about DSD and DSD eligibility criteria. As a result, PLASOC-M developed advocacy actions and supported civil society organizations in creating demand for DSD at the health facility level.
What are the key messages of your demand creation and treatment literacy activities?
We want clients to know about the U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) campaign and that the aim is for all clients on ART to be virally suppressed. For that to happen, clients must be supported to adhere to their treatment. We also want clients to have information about DSD models that exist at health facilities to enable them to demand enrolment in DSD models. That’s why it is important that clients have the correct knowledge of DSD eligibility criteria. At the policy level, we are advocating for the Ministry of Health to involve clients in design, implementation and monitoring because ultimately these services are for them.
How do you engage people living with HIV and key populations in the planning, implementation and monitoring of DSD models?
People living with HIV and key population representatives participate in Ministry of Health technical care and treatment groups for the design and implementation of DSD policies. They are also included in the DSD training of trainers, promoted by the Ministry and PLASOC-M. This training supports clients to take an informed and evidence-based approach towards their own care. Clients, working with peers, promote DSD demand creation at the health facility level.
What other specific activities do you conduct to increase DSD knowledge/treatment literacy and demand creation for DSD?
We hold awareness sessions that bring together stakeholders, including staff of the Ministry of Health, people living with HIV and representatives of key populations. We also conduct educational and literacy sessions on DSD in health facilities, with the involvement of people living with HIV, key populations and health providers. We produce information, education and communication material on DSD, such as posters, leaflets, banners, stickers, t-shirts and caps. To measure the level of implementation of DSD models available at the health facilities, we carry out joint supervision with the Ministry of Health team. Lastly, we hold lobby meetings and share the results of DSD implementation with health facilities, members of civil society groups and others.
Currently, we are piloting these activities and will be able to report on findings and learnings in the coming months.