Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Expansion of antiretroviral treatment to rural health centre level by a mobile service in Mumbwa district, Zambia

Christopher Dube, Ikuma Nozaki, Tadao Hayakawa, Kazuhiro Kakimoto, Norio Yamada & James B Simpungwe

Problem

Despite the Government’s effort to expand services to district level, it is still hard for people living with HIV to access antiretroviral treatment (ART) in rural Zambia. Strong demands for expanding ART services at the rural health centre level face challenges of resource shortages.

Approach

The Mumbwa district health management team introduced mobile ART services using human resources and technical support from district hospitals, and community involvement at four rural health centres in the first quarter of 2007. This paper discusses the uptake of the mobile ART services in rural Mumbwa.

Local setting

Mumbwa is a rural district with an area of 23 000 km2 and a population of 167 000. Before the introduction of mobile services, ART services were provided only at Mumbwa District Hospital.

Relevant changes

The mobile services improved accessibility to ART, especially for clients in better functional status, i.e. still able to work. In addition, these mobile services may reduce the number of cases “lost to follow-up”. This might be due to the closer involvement of the community and the better support offered by these services to rural clients.

Lessons learnt

These mobile ART services helped expand services to rural health facilities where resources are limited, bringing them as close as possible to where clients live.

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