The Uganda AIDS Commission visits the Medically Assisted Therapy programme in Kenya
The Kenya Ministry of Health, through the National AIDS and STI Control Council (NACC) and the National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP), with support from the South-South Learning network (SSLN), hosted a delegation of program leaders and implementers led by Uganda AIDS Commision (UAC) and Uganda Ministry of Health for four days in Nairobi. The aim of the visit was for the team to learn from the Medically Assisted Therapy (MAT) programme in Kenya. The learning visit took place from 15th to 19th March 2022.
The visit was deemed necessary after Uganda attended five virtual mentoring sessions on the MAT programme led by Kenya in November – December 2021. During the mentoring sessions, organised on the request of Uganda Champions, it was noted that Kenya’s MAT program has grown stronger due to the use of peer ‘microplanning’, scaling up of MAT sites in several counties, decentralisation of delivery of MAT through use of mobile vans and outreach to prisons among others. The learning visit focused on the Uganda team getting indepth understanding of these strategies and adapt some of them in their country.
The visit kicked off on 16th March 2022 at NACC offices with Dr. Ruth Masha, the CEO of the Kenya National AIDS Control Council (NACC), welcoming the Uganda delegates and acknowledging the common goal of reducing new HIV infections among People Who Inject/ Use Drugs (PWI/UDs) shared by the countries. Dr. Masha shared successful strategies of scaling up the MAT programme in Kenya and emphasised the need for a multisecoral response to this challenge.
“We are trying to think of what is causing this challenge and working on putting prevention using a 360-degree lens”
Dr. Ruth Masha, CEO, NACC
NASCOP presentation described the programme and the progress made in the last few years. The meeting was attended by various stakeholders respresenting civil society organisations, National Police Service and community representatives.
The Uganda delegates visited SAPTA, a Civil Society Organization and two MAT clinics in Nairobi in the days that followed. At the SAPTA Drop-in Centre (DIC), the visiting team interacted with the staff of the DIC, People Who Inject Drugs and peer outreach workers and clients who are enrolled in the MAT programme and understood how demand generation is done for MAT and use of misroplanning tools for planning and tracking clients. In the MAT clinic embedded within the Mathare Teaching and Referral Hospital in Nairobi, the delegates learnt about the data management systems, methadone dispensing, MAT linkage forums and need for partnership with civisl society organisations, people who inject drugs and other stakeholders for implementing an effective programme.
In the MAT clinic embedded within the Ngara Health facility, the delegates learnt about operationalisation of a mobile van to increase access to MAT among people who inject and use drugs.
The Uganda Delegates with Dr Sheila Ayuya, the MAT lead at the Ngara MAT clinic
On the last day of the visit, during the debriefing session at NACC offices, Dr. Daniel Byamukama from the Uganda AIDS Commission, thanked Kenya for organising the visit. He noted that Uganda and Kenya share similar context and challenges. Hence after visiting the sites and learning about the scale up of the MAT programme in Kenya, he feels encouraged to adapt these learnings in Uganda. He shared his commitmenmt to scale up the programme with people who use and inject drugs using a multistructural approach. The delegate shared their learnings and lessons that they can replicate in Uganda to improme their programme. The team thanked NACC, NASCOP and SSLN for planning and designing the visit effectively. To conclude, Dr. Byamukama appreciated the stakeholders, noting that all the delegation’s learning objectives had been met.
“ So much can be done inspite of challenges. We saw that Kenya has same structural barriers but has achieved so much. It is possible to be bold and we learnt tactics from CEO, NACC. We are going home to do some work!” Dr. Daniel Byamukama, Lead, HIV Prevention, Uganda AIDS Commission
“ Having the clinics in the DICs registered under MoH ensure that the DICs provide comprehensive service package spacially for women. This is a learning for Uganda. Similar to Kenya we can use the drug peddlers as allies for referral and support rather than fighting with them” Latifa, Harm Reduction Network, Uganda