Adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) has improved in Mwenezi following the implementation of the ‘Out of Facility Community Antiretroviral Therapy Distribution’ (OFCAD) programme.

The ART distribution programme is being driven by trained village health workers and it has brought relief to the people of Mwenezi who used to travel several kilometres to health institutions to collect medication.

Programme partner, Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) Counsellor and Mentor, Onwell Nyekete said the initiative was necessitated by the realisation that a number of people on ART were defaulting due to issues to do with long distances.

“We introduced this programme after realising that many people initiated on ART in this area were not taking their medication consistently. We identified 46% loss to fallout when we were doing our order review evaluating the programme,” he said.

The programme is strictly monitored but does not cater for children.

“The programme is not compulsory and clients are free to join an OFCAD of their choice or to continue taking their medication from the healthcare centre. This programme does not include children and those unstable clients,” Chirindi Health Centre Sister in Charger Ratidzo Jagada said.

A village health worker told the ZBC News that the impact is already being felt as adherence ratio has increased.

“In this area, we do not have adequate health facilities so we had to travel for more than 50km to access medication, however with this programme it has become very easy for us and it is our hope that the programme will continue,” said Mrs Rennet Zhou.

The programme began in September and is running at seven locations in Mwenezi district, with a subscription of over 100 people.