Report from the HIV Programmatic Training in March 2014

As in 2012 and 2013, SAMU hosted the HIV Programmatic Training in Cape Town from March 16-28, 2014, on behalf of MSF’s HIV/AIDS Working Group. This two-week training is organized for MSF staff with a medical background who coordinate, manage and supervise specific HIV/TB programs or HIV/TB services within programs having other operational priorities.

This year we had a large and lively group of 29 very motivated participants: medical team leaders, field coordinators, medical coordinators and heads of missions, as well as colleagues of the Ministry of Health (MOH). They represented an interesting mix of MSF HIV operational contexts: from high HIV prevalence contexts having already been relatively successful in scaling up the HIV response yet with emerging challenges (Swaziland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya…) to high prevalence contexts with still major challenges of access and quality (Mozambique, DRC, Guinea Conakry), as well as contexts where HIV is still mainly concentrated in specific and often neglected populations (Myanmar, India, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan).

After introductory sessions updating the situation on HIV epidemiology, HIV global response, and current MSF priorities, the program followed throughout the first week the various steps of the ‘HIV Cascade’ from HIV testing, to linkage in care, up to the required long term ART retention and viral suppression. Specific sessions were dedicated to HIV/TB co-infection; key populations; biomedical prevention; prevention of mother to child transmission and to HIV services for children and adolescents. The last part of the course covered laboratory, supply, M&E, operational research and HIV advocacy; ending with a session on experiences and strategies for handover.

In both weeks of the training, a half-day field visit was integrated in order to observe course-related, MSF-supported HIV/TB services in the township of Khayelitsha.

Throughout the course, through 4 working groups, participants designed HIV programs for HIV-affected populations in the following 4 distinct operational contexts: the urban high HIV prevalence context of Maputo; a rural high HIV prevalence context in Zimbabwe; a conflict affected rural high HIV prevalence area in the Central African Republic; and an area in Kyrgyzstan with the HIV epidemic still concentrated in key populations.

As in previous editions, various types of group exercises, discussions and debates enhanced the involvement of all participants. In particular the attendance by MOH colleagues enriched the exchange by bringing in the perspective of health authorities.

We will now build on this latest edition of the Programmatic Training to prepare for the next edition in early 2015, in line with the MSF priorities for HIV, which are currently under review through a platform involving the MSF AIDS Working group, SAMU, the Access Campaign, the Analysis and Advocacy Unit, Medical Directors and MSF Operations of the respective operational centers.