MWENEZI-Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has been praised for its programme called Out of Facility Community Art Distribution (OFCAD) which involves distributing drugs to people with HIV within their specific areas of residence.
The programme has brought remarkable relief to the district’s remotest communities which are far away from clinics and hospitals.
MSF, which is known in English as Doctors without Borders initiated OFCAD which is a unique model by which village health workers are trained and mandated to distribute antiretroviral (ARVs) right from their homes.
The international medical humanitarian organisation, whose objective is to provide medical assistance to communities in need, has been operating in the district for the past three years.
Since 2016, MSF has been providing treatment, care and support to various patients in the district. The organisation introduced the OFCAD to improve access to ARVs by people living in hard-to-reach areas.
The organisation, which is now leaving Mwenezi district, officially handed over the OFCAD project on November 22 to Batanai HIV and Aids Service Organisation (Bhaso) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care at a ceremony held at Neshuro growth point.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, MSF project coordinator, Rinako Uenishi said he was pleased that the organisation’s programmes were patient participatory.
He said the programme was a great success as it led to many people being registered for anti-retroviral treatment.
“We implemented the model in hard-to-reach areas of Mwenezi district and results show that the initiative significantly improved the ART client retention level and it also brought drug closer to patients.
“We call upon health service providers and all other stakeholders including the donor community to allocate resources so that the OFCAD model can be replicated in other rural settings throughout the country in order to ease the burden of accessing ARVs,” said Uenishi.
Nurses from Chirindi and Mwenezi clinics who serve some of the remotest areas in the district and the whole country praised the OFCAD programme was a relief for many rural people.
They also said they had learnt a lot form the capacity building mechanisms put in place by MSF.
Miriam Dzimati, a Mwenezi Clinic nurse said the programme had forced a reduction of ART defaulting rate in the area.
Moreblessing Sibanda from Chovele area in Ward 17, Mwenezi West, said she was happy that OFCAD had established convenient places for her to access medication.
“We would travel some 70km to the nearest health facility to get our treatment drugs and that was odious in face of the mobility due to transport costs and flooded rivers during the rainy season.
“The setting-up of OFCAD sites means I am now travelling only about 3km to collect my medication,” said Sibanda.
The OFCAD handover ceremony was attended by many people including the local traditional leadership, village health workers, medical doctors, MSF staff, Bhaso staff and MSF medical coordinator Dr Reinaldo Ortuno.