Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment in Lesotho uses mobile technologies to increase the number of HIV+ children
and pregnant women accessing treatment
23% of the two million population are HIV positive (HIV+). Of the estimated 13,000 children (0-14) in Lesotho living with HIV/AIDS, only around 7,000 are on antiretroviral treatment (ART)
Lesotho has one of the world's highest rates of HIV/AIDS.
Working with Vodacom Lesotho and in partnership with the Ministry of Health, USAID, Elton John AIDS Foundation, ViiV Healthcare & The ELMA Foundation, the Vodafone Foundation launched ‘Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment’ (MHIT) in Lesotho. The programme aims to increase the number of HIV+ children accessing ART in three years.
A key element of the programme is the implementation of Text to Treatment, which uses Vodafone M-Pesa, the mobile money payment system, to ensure that all children living with HIV/AIDS can access treatment by supporting their transportation costs to health clinics. The programme also leverages Vodafone’s technologies to increase the number of women accessing prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programmes, which prevents HIV+ mothers passing the HIV virus onto their newborn child.
What we are doing to reach our goal?
Lesotho has over 600,000 children aged 0-14 and this programme wants to give each one of them the opportunity to test for HIV.
We hope to identify the 6,000 HIV+ children who still need treatment. The Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment programme has employed multiple strategies to reach the most number of children.
Vodafone Foundation has partnered with Kick4Life, a local organisation in Lesotho which uses sport for social change, to deploy their award winning “Test Your Team” model.
This model combines the familiar, engaging atmosphere of sport, in particular football, in tandem with interactive HIV education curriculum activities to increase uptake of HIV testing. The programme has also worked with the Clinton Health Access Initiative to identify and map areas with high numbers of HIV+ children. Once these sites are identified, the programme then deploys teams of HIV counsellors and nurses who provide test sites right in these high potential communities.
There are over 40 counsellors and nurses who are working with Vodafone Foundation to go out into the communities to test children for HIV.
Connecting HIV positive clients to care
The Mobilising HIV Identification and Treatment programme provides access to health care to those clients in need either through bringing the care to their communities through mobile outreaches or providing transport to care through Text to Treatment. Trained nurses go out via mobile clinics to serve hard to reach communities and villages which have little to no access to healthcare.
Nurses with the mobile clinics provide health services to children, babies and pregnant women and counsel patients for HIV testing and treatment. They also provide antenatal care services, vaccines and nutritional care to encourage mothers and children to attend the clinics, which helps overcome stigma sometimes associated with traveling to health facilities for HIV services. In addition the programme has trained HIV counsellors who sweep the community to identify HIV positive clients and then link them to care.
For patients who are HIV+, and cannot afford the cost of transport to medical facilities where they can access ART, we use Text to Treatment to send money to pay for these individuals to travel to health clinics to receive ART. Money can be sent to patients, guardians and Village Health Workers to cover transport costs of women and children.
Text to Treatment is also implemented to ensure that all pregnant women are bought to appropriate medical facilities for prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) treatment to prevent HIV infection to their babies. For those children who test positive for HIV, Text to Treatment provides access to ongoing treatment.
Improving patient management
Vodafone Foundation has developed a mobile app that enables real time health worker and patient management, allowing the Ministry of Health and other organisations to better understand and address paediatric HIV in Lesotho.
Nurses and HIV counsellors register patients on the app, which collects details on identifying and monitoring children and pregnant women with HIV and enabling them to access ART via Text to Treatment. This app also allows for real time monitoring of the programme to ensure that the programme is reaching the most number of clients with the resources available.