DHO admits challenges in tracking ART defaulters

Chiradzulu District Hospital has admitted that it is facing challenges to track people who default Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART).

Expert Clients are HIV-positive men and women who deliberately and skillfully use their own experiences living with HIV to help others overcome the many challenges inherent in an HIV-positive diagnosis including returning the defaulters into care.

ART Coordinator for Chiradzulu Felix Mbale said they are failing to track defaulters as most clients come from neighboring districts.

“We receive clients from Blantyre, Thyolo and Mulanje and it becomes difficult for us to trace them. Most of the times we rely on telephone communication but in most cases this doesn’t work,” he said.

Mbale however said the hospital is trying to create a better working relationship with neighboring district hospitals to address the challenge.

ART patients are officially declared “defaulters” when they have failed to present for a medication refill two months after their medications should have run out.

According to a report for the third quarter of the year 2017 by Medecins Sans Frontier (MSF), Chiradzulu district hospital registered 18 percent default rate while

The fourth quarter report is yet to be released.

A baseline study conducted by CRS in 2011 revealed that when salaried Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) are tasked with tracing patients who officially declared defaulters, only 8.7% are returned to care but where Expert Clients are in place, the number becomes higher.

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