From September 28 to 30 was held in Blantyre a refreshing course for over seventy activists and voluntaries committed in the eleven DREAM treatment centers operating in Malawi.
The recent adoption of new guidelines that extend the inclusion criteria for the treatment of HIV/AIDS has make it necessary to come together to take stock of the current situation and to reflect together on the new challenges to fight the pandemic.
When in 2005 the DREAM Program took its first steps in Malawi, the access to treatment was not ensured for all; care centers were rare, the vertical prevention was practiced in very few centers and with poor results because entrusted only to the single dose of nevipirine and there were no laboratory services, except those provided by DREAM.
Today the scenario is different: it is certainly easier to access the antiretroviral therapy for patients and for pregnant women and that is why it is necessary and urgent to find the tools to ensure that patients under care will adhere to the treatment and do not abandon the therapy.
The work of “peer to peer counseling” and the testimonials of the activists trained by DREAM were the strong points for the extraordinary results of adherence obtained by the Program.
Today’s challenge is to spread DREAM’s treatment model in the country, in particular in maternity wards where it s more difficult for pregnant women (who are unaware of their HIV+ status until the execution of the test done in the maternity ward) to accept to undertake a treatment that will last for their entire life, for fear of stigma, fear to reveal their condition to their partners and relatives or more simply because they don’t understand the need and the value of the treatment.
The increase of the cooperation with the country’s health system and the consequent spread of the presence of DREAM in many maternity wards managed by the government, requires a new effort aimed at disseminating information and culture about the problems concerned with AIDS in order to obtain adherence to treatment.
In addition to these considerations, with the active contribution of the participants, during the course were held in-depth lessons about home care for children, prenatal hygiene and the correct practices to breast feeding, weaning and nutrition.
The course was held by European teachers in cooperation with the local staff of doctors and professionals of DREAM in Malawi, now experts after years of work and training on the field and thanks to the concepts learned in the many training events held in the past years.
A special space was also given to the explanation of the utility of the practice of male circumcision for the prevention of the spread of the HIV virus and for the prevention of cervical cancer.
The knew knowledge obtained will enable activists in Malawi to continue to play the best valuable liaison activities between the health centers and the people living in the villages and surrounding areas, disseminating capillary important information that will help to save more and more children from the spread of AIDS and will help to improve health conditions of the people in general.