Dr Gacet Macarena Apaza Alcaraz, from IDH (Instituto para el Desarrollo Humano) in Bolivia, visited Via Libre in Peru with the aim of strengthening comprehensive care and treatment programmes in Bolivia. Via Libre runs a clinic which specialises in HIV and HAART (highly active anti-retroviral treatment) which is integrated within the public health system in Peru.
Dr Gacet visited the SidAccin Programme, a successful comprehensive care and treatment programme for people living with HIV and their families, set up by Via Libre.
‘It is comforting to know that the achievements and difficulties encountered by IDH are recognised by our colleagues at Via Libre. Via Libre’s journey will serve to guide our efforts at IDH,’ said Dr Gacet. ‘It also helped me put in place targets for improving our comprehensive care and support services in Bolivia.’
Joined up approach
The exchange provided Dr Gacet with the opportunity to understand the multi-disciplinary approach of the SidAcci'n Programme, from its clinical care to empowerment workshops, and also how the programme fits within Peru’s health system.
‘I am now convinced that a multidisciplinary approach is important to strengthen the quality of care…I also realised that effective coordination between government and NGOs can provide greater service coverage.’ Via Libre offers psychosocial support to patients receiving ART who request it. The programme shows that the peer approach has a place within the public health system. Peer educators are empowered and well trained, an important factor when working with people living with HIV. ‘I was surprised by the scope of work performed by peers and counsellors in strengthening and improving the quality of services to PLHIV,’ said Dr Gacet.
The improvements that IDH plan to make as a result of the exchange include:
- strengthening the health service team at IDH to provide comprehensive care and support
- improving the quality of patient care currently offered in IDH
- introducing a mental health approach to clinical ART programmes
- extending care and support services to relatives of people living with HIV
- more education and peer support.
Dr Gacet concluded: ‘A first impression is that in Bolivia, we still have a long way to go, but at IDH we have managed to take large steps, providing a good level of quality patient care and support, using Via Libre as a learning reference point. Knowing that the actions taken are similar, the Exchange also makes me conclude that similar achievements will also be gained’.