PACE wins URI Award

PACE has been recognised by the Uganda Responsible Investment award as the best HIV/AIDS Support Organisation of the Year, 2014.

At a ceremony presided over by H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of Uganda, PACE received an award after being voted by the people of Uganda in appreciation and recognition of our contribution towards the attainment of United Nations MDGs, and promoting and upholding International Best Practices and Standards in the area of HIV/AIDS Support.

 

PACE's URI Award for Best HIV/AIDS Support Organisation

PACE’s URI Award for Best HIV/AIDS Support Organisation of the year 2014

This is an interview with Zacch Akinyemi, the Executive Director of PACE Uganda on what this award means for PACE. (As published in Daily Monitor, 17th July, 2014)

Give us a condensed background of PACE.

PACE (Programme for Accessible health, Communication and Education) is a Ugandan non-governmental organization (NGO) implementing health programs in support of the Government of Uganda health objectives in coordination with the Ministry of Health. PACE particularly focuses on key health areas of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Child health, maternal and reproductive health. With its global connections, PACE is a leader in solutions for the health market in Uganda.

What does PACE do and how does the organization implement its programs and activities?
PACE uses social marketing and social franchising techniques to facilitate the private sector to deliver health services to the 60% of Ugandans who seek care in the private sector as their first port of call.

What is your target audience, and where are your areas of operation?
PACE targets different audiences with its different projects for example the HIV Care and Support program targets people living with HIV (PLHIVs), the HIV Prevention program targets key populations such as sex workers and their clients, fisher folks and young girls. The Reproductive Health and Maternal Health programs target women of reproductive age while the Malaria program targets children under 5 and pregnant women.

PACE was recently awarded as best organization in HIV support at the URI Awards. What does this award mean to you as an organization?
Being recognized by the Uganda Responsible Investment award as the best HIV/AIDS Support Organization of the Year, is a testimony that Ugandans appreciate the health impact PACE is delivering to the people affected and infected by HIV and vulnerable Ugandans, which was made possible with funding support from Center for Disease Control (CDC), Presidents Emergence Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Civil Society Fund (CSF).

The award will motivate the PACE team to do even more in support of the health goals of the Government of Uganda

This is the second time in a row that PACE is winning the coveted award.
What are some of the best practices that keep you on top in HIV/AIDS support?
The previous year PACE was recognized by the public as the ‘best Health Organization’ for its leading role in the health sector. The award this year is PACE’s second recognition in a similar category which cements our work as a leading partner of the Ministry of Health.

While PACE is a local organization, its membership to the PSI global network of 60 countries avails PACE access to international best practices which are applied in areas such as health programming, marketing, research, finance e.t.c

PACE also emphasizes empowerment through which we have established communities that are confident and can make good decisions regarding their health and families.

What are some of the major milestones that PACE has registered in the last five years as far as HIV support is concerned?

Last year alone PACE was able to avert 1,257,331 DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) through the HIV Care and Support, Maternal Health, Reproductive Health and Child Survival programs. This means that millions of Ugandans were enabled to live a full year of healthy lives without the troubles of being sick or suffering premature deaths.

PACE is the leading implementing partner providing basic care kits to PLHIVs in coordination with districts, the government and support groups of PLHIV. PACE supplied 120,000 Basic Care Kits to PLHIVs in 2013 alone bringing the total number of beneficiaries to date to 416,000 PLHIVs. The BCP contains commodities such as a mosquito net, condoms, water treatment tablets and a vessel to store clean water aimed at fighting off opportunistic infections like diarrhea, malaria among others. The kits were initially distributed to 225 sites in 85 districts however an additional 180 facilities in 18 new districts are planned this year 2014.

Under HIV prevention, the program funded by CSF focuses on promoting HIV prevention products, services such as condoms, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC), HIV counselling and testing (HCT) among others.

The Parliament has passed the HIV Bill which is deemed controversial by some sections of the public, and civil society. As an organization involved in HIV/AIDS fight, what is your view on the passed HIV Bill?

The HIV Prevention and Control Bill includes mandatory HIV testing for pregnant women and their partners, and allows medical providers to disclose a patient’s HIV status to others. The bill also criminalizes HIV transmission, attempted transmission, and behavior that might result in transmission by those who know their HIV status.

While the bill does not impact directly on PACE as an organization, it does impact some of the target population that PACE works with such as the PLHIV. The aspect that requires our providers to disclose the HIV status of the people we serve may also put the providers in conflict with other government policy on confidentiality of the patients’ health status. As PACE we are happy to work with government and other implementing partners to mitigate the impact of the bill especially on PLHIV through provision of evidence from the field.

What are some of the challenges you face as an organization in the fight against HIV/AIDS? And how are you trying to mitigate such challenges?

Behavioral change takes a while and sometimes the projects wrap up before seeing this impact. To mitigate this PACE has ensured ownership of the health interventions at the grassroots as our sustainability strategy.

Low capacity especially at the community level to implement high impact HIV prevention and care programs. To address this PACE is building capacity of CBOs. PACE worked with about 50 CBOs and was able to build the capacity of 10 of them to a point where they were able to access donor funding directly

How does one access your services?
For Reproductive and Maternal Health services Ugandans can access services through the 181 ProFam social franchise network clinics while products like Trust, Condoms, Watergaurd, Mama Kits can be accessed through pharmacies, drug shops, clinics across the country. Basic Care Kits can be accessed through linkages by the support and peer groups or directly from the Positive Living Project (PLP) health facilities. Prevention services are accessed through the VHTs, peer educators and Community Based Organizations in the implementation.

What message do you have for your stakeholders? 

We would like to thank the government of Uganda through the Ministry of health whose coordination guidelines and partnership at national and district levels have helped PACE to contribute significantly to the improvement of the health of Ugandans. We would also like to appreciate our donors including CDC, PEPFAR, CSF, Global Fund, Merck foundation among others for funding the health innovations implemented by PACE.

 

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Kumbaya Children’s Foundation receives mosquito nets

Kumbaya Children’s Foundation has received 40 mosquito nets from PACE, a local non-governmental health organisation. The nets were handed over to the Foundation during a small ceremony at the Mpererwe based home by Mr Zacch Akinyemi, the Executive Director of PACE, on Thursday, July 10th 2014.

The Foundation, home to 48 children, has recently been plagued by malaria, with 10 children currently at home, receiving the medication.

“Malaria has been a problem lately. The nets we had have all been wasted away. It is becoming very costly to pay for treatment, on top of paying school fees and buying food,” Pastor Robert Ssenfuma, the Director of the Foundation.

Taking the lives of more than one million people each year, the malaria epidemic largely affects populations in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Uganda’s Ministry of Health, malaria “currently poses the most significant threat to the health of the [Ugandan] population.” Between twenty-five and forty percent of outpatient visits at health facilities in the country are for malaria. For Ugandan children, malaria is the primary cause of death.

Pastor Ssenfuma thanked PACE for their generosity towards the Foundation for the mosquito nets received.

“We have been blessed to receive these nets. The children can now go to school, uninterrupted by malaria. We will repair these nets so that they can last a very long time,” he said.

 

Mr Zacch Akinyemi, the ED of PACE, handing over the mosquito nets to the children, while Pastor Robert Ssenfuma, the Diorector of Kumbaya Children's Foundation, looks on

Mr Zacch Akinyemi, the ED of PACE, handing over the mosquito nets to the children, while Pastor Robert Ssenfuma, the Diorector of Kumbaya Children’s Foundation, looks on

Mr Akinyemi thanked Pastor Senfuma for the work he is doing with the children and the change in has brought about in their lives.

“PACE is privileged to be part of the change that you are bringing to these children. We at PACE are at the forefront in the fight against malaria in Uganda, especially among vulnerable groups like pregnant mothers and children. We work in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners to avert morbidity and mortality arising from the high burden disease areas in Uganda. In this particular case, the nets will protect the children against malaria, and enable them to go to school uninterrupted,” he said.

The Team lead for Malara and Child Survival, PACE, Ms Rebecca Babirye, (front centre) and Irene Mirembe , the Communications Co-ordinator, PACE, stand with the children who have received mosquito nets

The Team lead for Malaria and Child Survival, PACE, Ms Rebecca Babirye, (front centre) and Ms  Irene Mirembe , the Communications Co-ordinator, PACE, stand with the children who have received mosquito nets

Pastor Ssenfuma started taking care of the first child, Joan, back in 2008. Joan, now in Senior Five, is one of the 48 children that make up Kumbaya Children’s Home, with a subsidiary in Luweero that looks after 24 children. These children are got from the streets, while some run away from relatives who want to force them into early sex and marriage.

Despite their lack of permanent funding, all the children of school-going age are in school, and they are also given different practical and life skills like farming, baking, making mats, and industrial mentorship to help them become self-reliant when the time comes for them to leave the Foundation.

“We plan to build our own school for the children, as well as our own home, because it is expensive to pay rent and school fees while buying food, with no permanent funding.” Pastor Ssenfuma explains.

Currently, their main source of income is their children’s choir that performs at various churches, and also holds its own concerts; and sells their gospel albums to take care of their children.

PACE is glad to have contributed the well-being of the children and be part of the positive change.

 To learn more about the Foundation, visit http://www.kumbayacf.org

Prolonging the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS

People living with HIV/AIDS deserve the chance to live long and productive lives with the help of the current health interventions in the area of HIV and AIDS. The Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention framework developed by the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) and UNAIDS, emphasizes the importance of putting a person living with HIV at the centre of their personal health management and well-being; while tackling both treatment and prevention concurrently. This framework encompasses the timely and uninterrupted treatment and care of patients, creating and providing an environment where people are unafraid of getting tested and counselling; the necessity of meeting the broader health and dignity needs of people living with HIV; as well as the protection and support of their human, sexual and reproductive rights.

In Uganda, this framework has been adopted by the Positive Living Project (PLP) which promotes the Positive Living lifestyle for people living with HIV/AIDS. Under this concept, the Positive Living Lifestyle promotes positive behaviour change and the adoption of a positive prevention lifestyle; which basically means the prevention of re-infection and transmission to other people.It also emphasizes the protection against infection with opportunistic diseases like malaria and diarrhoea which would take advantage of a person’s compromised immune system.

The Positive Living Lifestyle encompasses protecting one’s sexual and reproductive health, delaying HIV disease progression and adopting a shared responsibility approach to protect oneself and one’s sexual partner from re-infection.

As of 2011, there were 145,000 new infections, rising from 128,000 new infections in 2010, according to the 2011 Uganda National HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey.

This project, funded by PEPFAR (US Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has made it possible to avail Basic Care Packages (BCP) to people living with HIV/AIDS to enable them prevent the occurrence of opportunistic infections like diarrhoea, and malaria.The project has been able to avail over 366,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with BCPs. The BCP is a home managed package consisting of a long lasting insecticide mosquito net, a safe water vessel, and WaterGuard tablets to guard against diarrhoea, condoms to prevent re-infection or the infection of other people as well a Z-card detailing the Positive Living Lifestyle translated in over 10 local

Joseph Nsereko, 62, from Kanungu district is a beneficiary of the (BCP). Married in 1978, and blessed with 7 children, he lost his first wife to AIDS in 1996.

“I decided to test and found I was HIV positive. When my new wife tested during a routine antenatal visit she too was positive.  We decided to live positively by adopting the positive living lifestyle”.

Joseph’s family are beneficiaries of a (BCP) that includes a water vessel, one mosquito net, Water-Guard tablets, condoms and a lot of information material about living healthy and with dignity when HIV positive.

“In December 2011, we received a replacement water vessel as we had lost the first one. This package has made our lives easier and healthier. We no longer need to boil water because we have water guard that simplifies the process of making water safe”.

Joseph goes on to say the package protects his family from infections such as diarrhea; and has drastically reduced the risk of contracting malaria because they sleep under mosquito nets. “

‘I can’t remember when I last fell sick from malaria. We also use condoms to avoid re-infection,” says Joseph.

The Positive Living lifestyle should therefore be embraced by all partners to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS are able to live long, productive and healthy lives. The project plans scale up to an additional 191 health facilities and 18 new districts bringing the total of PLP implementing sites and districts to 416 and 103 respectively.

 

 

 

 

Contents of the BCP Kit; People at a Positive Living rally.