As the Option B+ proved its efficacy in Malawi and its pilot phase in some selected health facilities in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon proved its worth, the Government of Cameroon on the 13 of September 2014 approved the Option B+ as the new protocol in the country. It is from this framework that the HivF Project embarked on capacity building to equip service providers in the North West Region to better adapt to this innovative approach.
The trainings which started on the 3rd of November 2014, brought together carefully selected staff from all Health Districts; both from high volume and low volume sites in different phases to improve on their capacities to better manage pregnant women living with HIV. It is from this backdrop that the last phase of 136 service providers were trained from the 15th to 19th and 22nd to 26th of February in Bamenda and Banso respectively.
These numbers add on to the already 452 health personnel trained on Option B+ since its initiation in the NWR of Cameroon.
It is worth noting that Option B+ has several advantages as compared to the Option A protocol formerly implemented in Cameroon. Some of which will include taking just one tablet daily, optimal reduction of MTCT of HIV, Protection against MTCT in current pregnancy and future pregnancies, Protection of negative partners in sero-discordant relationships, Avoiding ARV resistance associated with starting and stopping treatment repeatedly especially in areas of high fertility, Prevention of disease prevention for the mother, Breast feeding safer, infant health promotion, Align well with TB regimens, and efficacious treatment of Hepatitis B co-infection among others.
Talking with the HivF North West Project manager Mrs Kuni Esther who expressed her joy for training at least a staff on Option B+ in all health facilities of the Northwest Region, she had this to say “we are hopeful that with the last phase of trainings done, we expect that as from march, no woman will be on prophylaxis again. This will go a long way to increase retention rate because treatment with one pill reduces the pill burden and reduce the rate of double counting of recording different treatment regiments amongst others. We intend to intensify counseling in other to increase adherence thereby reducing transmission rate to below 2%. This can only achieve if service providers own the initiative and respect the supply chain modalities which will enable them receive drugs on time. If this is done, I am sure it will facilitate the attainment of the UNAIDS 2020 target of 90: 90: 90: which stands for; 90 percent of PLWHV should know their status, 90% of those who know their status should be treated and 90% of those on treatment should witness a reduction of viral load.”
Supervision has been going on smoothly with challenges being too much dusty and stony roads. During our supervision we updated the various registers and did requisition of drugs. From our supervision this month, we observed that most of our sites have initiated many clients on option B+. We also realized that some sites had defaulters and lost to follow-up clients. We hope to have no more defaulters because of distance since all our sites are now option B+ sites.