By Tibebe Shenie, Country Director, NASTAD Ethiopia and Anne Sites, Senior Manager, Global Program, NASTAD
The recently released UNAIDS Gap Report highlighted many significant achievements in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, including a 13% decrease in new HIV infections and a 19% reduction in AIDS-related deaths over the past three years. But the report also emphasized that much work remains to be done to ‘close the gap’ between those who have access to life-saving services and those who do not. It is critical that Ministries of Health be able to utilize high quality HIV data to address these gaps, and to direct client-level interventions to locations and populations with the greatest need. In Ethiopia, NASTAD is contributing to this effort as it supports the Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (FHAPCO) in the implementation of a Multi-Sectoral Response Information System (MRIS).
In Ethiopia, where the estimated adult HIV prevalence rate is 1.3%, the HIV response may be sub-divided into clinically based interventions and non-clinically based interventions. The clinical response includes interventions like HIV counseling and testing (HCT), the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), and the provision of anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Information on the clinical response is collected by the Ministry of Health through a reliable routine information system. However, the government of Ethiopia recognized that there was minimal standardized, quality data on the country’s non-clinical response to HIV.
To address this need, FHAPCO partnered with NASTAD Ethiopia to develop the MRIS, a routine information system designed for the collection, analysis, reporting and interpretation of information on the non-clinical response to HIV. MRIS allows for the routine and continuous monitoring of a variety of interventions across the country, including HIV mainstreaming, school-based HIV prevention education, prevention among key populations, condom distribution, and care and support services for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and people living with HIV (PLHIV), which includes psychosocial support, food and nutrition services, and legal protection services. NASTAD Ethiopia contributed to the development of recording and reporting forms, reporting flow charts, indicator definitions and other key components of the system.
NASTAD is now actively engaged in the national implementation of MRIS through a series of planning, training, and technical assistance activities. To date, NASTAD has trained over 500 individuals on MRIS, ranging from national monitoring and evaluation officers to community-level health workers working to promote condom use among key populations. In the coming months, NASTAD Ethiopia will work across the country to organize and facilitate MRIS workshops, provide assistance and supportive supervision to strengthen data quality and data monitoring, support the development of an electronic data collection and report compiling system, and conduct an assessment of MRIS to identify gaps and challenges.
Ultimately, the information gathered through MRIS on the non-clinical response, coupled with clinical response data, will provide the Ethiopian government with a complete picture of HIV activities in the country and the impact these activities have on those living with and affected by the epidemic. This information will then form the backbone of evidence-based and strategically targeted programs and interventions, to ensure greater progress in preventing and treating HIV in Ethiopia.
If you are interested in learning more about how NASTAD is supporting the HIV response in Ethiopia, please contact Anne Sites.
Visit NASTAD.org/global to learn more about the NASTAD Global Program.
Anna Carroll, Senior Associate, Global Program, NASTAD, also contributed to the development of this post.