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.
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.