TUNAJALI has managed to reduce HIV Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) results turn-round time from three months to three weeks.
The Program’s Prevention from Mother to Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT) Senior Technical Officer, Agnes Kosia, says that the improvement follows TUNAJALI’s deliberate efforts to ensure that the results are sent back to the parents in time so that HIV infected children are put on ARVs early.
She says that an analysis was conducted to ascertain the time it took from taking specimen samples from children, sending the dried blood spots (DBS) for lab examination and the results being received back to the facilities. The turn-round time was unacceptably long. “Some parents had to wait for up to three months to get the results. This is not good and denies children early initiation into treatment which is of critical importance” says Kosia.
“As caring people we had to look for a quicker, cost effective and least time consuming way of transporting DBS. We, therefore, opted for EMS (Expedited Mail Services) and entered into a contract with Tanzania Posts Corporation (TPC). EMS has significantly improved the turn-round time for DBS results; cutting it to three weeks from three months. “But still, we want to reduce the waiting time to two weeks, that is our goal,” she says.
Talking about the contract signed on October 1, 2012, Kosia says TPC ‘s assignment is to collect DBS from Iringa, Njombe, Morogoro, Dodoma and Singida regions and deliver to Zonal Laboratory at their respective Referral hospital; Muhimbili, Mbeya Refferal and Bugando on billing system.
In 2010 TUNAJALI entered in a contract with TPC for the transportation of DBS and their results in Singida, whereas all districts namely Iramba, Manyoni, Singida District Council and Singida Municipal benefited from this arrangement. DBS were collected from the health facilities in the region and then transported to Bugando Hospital, Mwanza, for screening.
“Being satisfied with the service, we thought it was high time that we introduce the system to all our regions of operation. We are doing all these because we believe in the provision of quality HIV/AIDS services so as to save lives of Tanzanians,” says Kosia.
As one of the initiatives, TUNAJALI focuses to support EID aimed at establishing the HIV status of under-18 month-old children born by infected mothers.