Access to Medicines Transforms Lives for HIV/AIDS Patients.

75%

decrease in the number of HIV/AIDS-related deaths in Zambia since 2002

800,000

people who receive ARVs supplied by MSL

400,000

people who received ARVs through GHSC-PSM assistance in the past year

 

A Supply Chain for Universal Testing and Treatment

To support Zambia’s HIV/AIDs goals, the USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project partners with Zambia’s Medical Stores Limited (MSL), the government institution responsible for warehousing and distributing health commodities to service delivery points. To meet the 90-90-90 goals, MSL supplies ARVs and other commodities to 800,000 of the approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Zambia. In the last 12 months, GHSC-PSM maintained a continuous supply of the country’s preferred first-line ARV regimen for adults and adolescents — tenofovir/lamivudine/efavirenz (TLE) — to MSL for nearly 400,000 people.

In collaboration with other partners, GHSC-PSM also supports MSL in storing and distributing TLE and other ARVs and health commodities. Previously, MSL could not distribute laboratory controls because the agency did not own refrigerated trucks to carry commodities requiring temperature control. Laboratory staff use these controls to assess the precision of laboratory equipment, ensuring accurate test results for patients. In November 2017, MSL received a fleet of 12 distribution trucks donated by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through USAID and GHSC-PSM. Three of the trucks are refrigerated, which enables MSL to distribute its own cold-chain products for the first time. In February 2018, MSL made its first delivery of laboratory controls with three refrigerated trucks to health facilities across the country. Delivery of controls means that they were taken to required facilities to calibrate the laboratory equipment before they can run any human samples on them. This service was previously outsourced to the private sector, which was costly. Timely delivery of laboratory controls enables laboratories across the country to ensure that their machines are functioning and properly assessing patient samples. This successful cold-chain control delivery was a key step toward integrating this responsibility into MSL’s core functions. With the expansion of its cold-chain capabilities, MSL is responsible for delivering safe medicines, laboratory controls, and reagents to communities like Catherine’s so that patients there can receive the full spectrum of HIV care and treatment.

“My life is totally changed. I am strong and able to work, thanks to the government and the donors who continuously provide these ARVs for free."

Catherine Nalungwe

“I didn’t have [surviving] children, I was always down — up and down — but after I started ARVs I managed to have two children, a boy and a girl, and now I am living a healthy life.”

Catherine Nalungwe

“I always advise my colleagues [and] my family members. Most of them, they fear to start ARV treatment or know their HIV status. But, I always disclose my HIV status to … everyone, and I encourage them to start [treatment] because these ARVs have worked on my side.”

Catherine Nalungwe

A Transformation Realized

Access to critical ARVs and health commodities allows patients like Catherine to move forward in leading healthier lives. Nearing her fifties, Catherine accesses her TLE from George Clinic in Lusaka, where she and six others have formed a support group for HIV patients and their families. She remarried in 2004 to a man who is also living with HIV. They have two children who are 10 and 9 years old, both of whom are HIV-negative. Catherine’s awareness of her HIV status — through access to testing — and sticking to her treatment regimen — through the availability of ARVs — significantly reduced the chance that she would transmit the virus to her children.

“I didn’t have [surviving] children, I was always down — up and down — but after I started ARVs I managed to have two children, a boy and a girl, and now I am living a healthy life,” she says.

As a leader in her community, Catherine works as a volunteer at the local health clinic each day. She provides clerical services and guidance, including counseling for HIV-positive patients. By speaking openly about her own experiences with HIV, she persuades others — including her sister — to learn their HIV status and adhere to treatment if needed.

“I always advise my colleagues [and] my family members. Most of them, they fear to start ARV treatment or know their HIV status. But, I always disclose my HIV status to … everyone, and I encourage them to start [treatment] because these ARVs have worked on my side.”

GHSC-PSM works to improve availability and access to lifesaving health commodities through procurement, distribution, and supply chain technical assistance in Zambia. With the support of the project, MSL has been able to improve its efficiency in delivering cold-chain products to patients like Catherine so that others can benefit from treatment and live healthier lives.

“My life is totally changed. I am strong and able to work, thanks to the government and the donors who continuously provide these ARVs for free,” reflects Catherine.

Photo Credit (Banner): GHSC-PSM