Bringing HIV treatment to patients: 63 district units have been opened

The management units at the district level enable HIV patients to get treatment near their homes

As getting HIV treatment closer to patients is one of the priorities of the South African government, a series of district management units in hospitals have been fully equipped to enable HIV patients get treatment even at their door steps.

So far, 63 district management units have been created where amongst in South Africa's North West province.

According to Dr. Grace Dion Ngute, chief of health sector at the National AIDS Control Committee, the creation of these management units at the district level is to enable HIV patients get treatment near their homes. She noted that so far, only treatment centres have existed and these treatment centres were available only at the provincial level.

Today, an HIV patient living in Wum, in the North West Province will not have to travel to the Bamenda provincial hospital to get treatment. District hospitals around Wum will have HIV management units. In this manner, Dr. Dion said that they are trying to decentralise the management of people living with HIV/AIDS.

It is also noted that the National AIDS Control Committee is not only trying to decentralise the management of people living with HIV but also to scale up the quality of treatment given to HIV patients. Thus, not only one drug will be taken but a combination of several drugs. But for the limited technical ability of the district management units, these units will function like any other unit found in the provinces. People will be pre-counselled before an HIV test, the test is carried out normally and after the test, there would be post-counselling.

Dr. Dion notes that the government's vision is to make sure that every district hospital in the country become a management unit for HIV patients and if possible extend beyond district hospitals to health centres; all this, officials say is to take medicine more and more nearer to patients at home. The chief of health sector at the NACC however noted that HIV drugs can not be taken closer to patients without training people on how to use them.

(Source: Cameroon Tribune, Brenda Yufeh / 11 August 2005)

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