September 2011: UNICEF Zambia hosts a study team from the Western and Central African Region
LUSAKA, Zambia, September 2011 – UNICEF Zambia country office has been praised on its strides and many shining examples in the area of early infant diagnosis (EID). This resulted in a team of experts working in the area of pediatric HIV in the Western and Central African Region to undertake a study tour to learn more on how Zambia has managed to make so many advancements in early infant diagnosis.
A total of 4 countries and 22 participants from NACP, NAS, Laboratory, Referral Hospitals, RCH, Provinces/Districts and UNICEF as follows:
The purpose of the mission was to learn from Zambia Early Infant Diagnosis Programme and to share experiences on PMTCT and EID from other countries.
Speaking in an interview and on behalf of the rest of the team, delegation leader Madam Maman Macoura said that the team had great expectations from the mission. However, they were mostly keen to get updated on the implementation process, progress, new technology and strategies for PMTCT and early infant diagnosis; they also expected to acquire a good understanding of the Zambia EID programme; identify strategies to replicate from Zambia EID programme and make suggestions to improve the National EID programme in individual countries.
The team observed the following as lessons they were taking back from Zambia; Strong leadership of the Ministry of Health for the good coordination of EID, PMTCT and Pediatric Care programmes, well organized technical working groups, strong partnerships, centralized and coordinated PSM system, strong support and innovation from UNICEF and other partners.
As a result of these observed strengths in Zambia, the team resolved that the full scale-up of PMTCT and early infant diagnosis has helped in reduced turnaround time for EID, strengthened community systems, good monitoring, evaluation and data management system. The SMS technology (project mwana), strong programme evaluation, wide dissemination and use of data for decision making for EID and all this is something they liked as a team and hope to host a Zambian team in 2015 to look at their implementation in their region.
The team felt very strongly about taking the following with them in order to implement in their programming for EID; the good government leadership and commitment, SMS technology for EID and integrated MNCH and PMTCT, comprehensive and organised sample transport system, community participation: male involvement, community follow up system, Mother to Mother (M2M), lay counselors, task shifting, strategy for increasing antenatal re-testing for HIV, PICT for admitted children.
In conclusion, the team mentioned that they would still require and would be asking for technical assistance from Zambia EID and PMTCT programme as they embark on the region-wide implementation plan.
ZCO is proud to have been chosen as a country to draw lessons from and also that the good works that are being carried out are bearing fruit enough to be shared with others countries.
Lastly, the team also commended the ZCO team for the high caliber of professionalism, efficiency, and readiness to support the study tour which was so well organized even at short notice.