A (ART) clinic is one of the departments / units in the hospital that was introduced with the purposes of providing HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support to the most vulnerable population in Acholi sub region in Northern Uganda. The department was introduced in 2005 when HIV prevalence in the region was 16% for VCT and 9 % for PMTCT coupled with high level of stigma and discrimination. The clinic since its inception to date is being supported materially and financially by AIDS Relief through their major consortium Catholic Relief Services, CRS.
The activities in the clinic follow the motto of the hospital “Love, Serve with Honesty”. The work is done with the hearts of solidarity in the suffering of humanity. In providing a comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support the center designed a participatory approaches in disseminating and mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS in the community; expert HIV/AIDS clients (infected HIV persons living positively) has come out to educate the general community and impart the value of positive living (living responsibly with HIV), children infected with HIV have also been trained in child counseling to support fellow children in ARV adherence.
The clinic provides range of activities and among others includes;
• HIV counseling and using approaches such as voluntary counseling and testing, routine HIV counseling and testing for the care givers, and diagnostic HIV counseling and testing for patients referred from lower health centers
• HIV/AIDS awareness through education and prevention strategies is being applied. There is community HIV/AIDS education using various strategies including the use of media and leaflets
• Home visits to both HIV infected and affected members of the community through provision of ongoing and supportive counseling
• Provision of free ARV to those legible for it
• Free treatment of opportunistic infections
• Provision of adherence counseling to those legible for ARV and those on it
• Monitoring the progress of ARV through CD4 test
• Provision of post exposure prophylaxis
• Community HIV/AIDS training to different groups including local and traditional leaders
• Provision of scholastic materials to the orphans and vulnerable children, and
• Child protections
• Opportunity for experiential attachments to medical students and counselors
Like any other departments in the hospital, the clinic operates from 8:00am to 5:00pm from Monday to Friday and from 8:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays.
Below is an illustration of the patient flow;
For effective and participatory services delivery, the hospital is using community harms (Community based organizations) especially in the areas of promoting positive living among persons infected with HIV/AIDS and supportive adherence on ART. The head of the department form part of Kitgum District HIV/AIDS committee, responsible for supervising all HIV/AIDS activities in the district
The following is the combination of staff directly responsible for the activities in the clinic
1. Programme Coordinator (Medical Officer)
2. Two clinical / Medical Assistants
3. Two Nursing officers
4. One nurse
5. One dispenser
6. 2 counselors
Other support staffs are;
1. One monitoring and Evaluation officer
2. Two record assistants
3. One driver
The clinic and the hospital as a whole still has a challenge of attracting and retaining medical personnel due to limited financial resources and low payment compared to what other National and international organizations offers in the region. The hospital extends gratitude to all the hearts of generosity that has contributed and is still contributing to make the vulnerable population served.