The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition’s Global Fund Concept Note was successful, and has been recommended for funding of up to US $5 million. The grant will enable ITPC to extend its community-based monitoring of HIV treatment, to eleven countries in West Africa from January 2017 to December 2019.
Having monitored repeated stock outs of HIV medicines in West Africa through ITPC’s Treatment Observatories, ITPC submitted an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Global Fund in April 2015. In August 2015, we were invited to submit a full Concept Note. Unprecedentedly, our funding proposal was supported with endorsements from all 11 Country Coordinating Mechanisms in the region.
Monitoring of health systems by communities increases government accountability and informs targeted advocacy actions that can improve HIV treatment, particularly for key populations. Data is currently being collected in a fragmented way and does not integrate questions and themes important to those most affected by HIV. Our work under this grant will help to streamline and standardize treatment access data into a Regional Treatment Observatory.
The creation of community treatment observatories, as pioneered by ITPC, involves networks of people living with HIV collecting data in a systematic way to monitor the drug supply system in each country and to document and alert activists of critical ARV stock levels and management (or mismanagement) issues. People living with HIV and their allies will be trained, and provided with technical assistance to collect and analyze appropriate data and to use this data for advocacy for increased access to treatment.
“This grant is not only timely, but also essential,” explains Solange Baptiste, Executive Director of ITPC. “Although treatment coverage globally is around 40%, in West and Central Africa it averages 24% with some countries as low as 4%. Shockingly, fewer than one in five people living with HIV have access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in West Africa”.
According to Regional Director of ITPC West Africa, Sylvère Bukiki, “Many countries in our region struggle with weak health and monitoring systems, which is why there is a lack of data especially on treatment gaps. Effective community monitoring, at the national and regional level, is urgently required to increase access to quality HIV services and optimal treatment”.