Nutrition support in Uganda
- Organisation: Alive Medical Services (AMS)
- Country: Uganda
- Region: Eastern and southern Africa
- Stage of innovation: Stage 6: In the market and Ready to scale
- Start date: March 2021
- End date: July 2022
- Type of innovation: New combination of existing services
- Budget: 63,000 USD
- Funder: Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF)
Summary of intervention
During COVID-19, many people stopped gathering in their communities and attendance at health facilities drastically reduced. People living with HIV from marginalised populations recorded increasingly high viral load at this time and there was concern that treatment adherence levels were dropping. At the same time, many people faced severe economic difficulties, struggling to meet their day-to-day needs, including providing food for themselves and their families.
AMS planned to provide nutritional support and used the opportunity to offer a range of other services at the same time as clients came to collect their food packages. Adherence counselling sessions, testing and screening, clinical appointments, medication refills, and one-on-one counselling sessions in the community were part of the offer. Peer counsellors identified hot spots. The opportunity to access – not only much-needed food – but a whole range of services in one place gave clients increased incentives to attend.
Key populations experience significant levels of stigma in Uganda. By bringing services closer to their homes and communities clients felt safer accessing them.
This intervention confirms the important role of peer educators who have detailed knowledge of the communities they serve. They were able to identify the places people would feel comfortable to come together. Providing a ‘one-stop-shop for services in homes and communities proved an effective strategy to meet a range of needs to support the health and well-being of marginalised communities during a pandemic.
So far, the focus of this intervention has been on people living with HIV. However, other groups of people with very specific needs (e.g. transgender people and people at risk of HIV) could benefit from this intervention, together with targeted support from staff with relevant specialised training. AMS has provided nutritional packages in the past – before COVID-19 – and the demand for this service is likely to continue into the future. AMS is keen to reduce the need for this kind of support by addressing some of the underlying problems their clients face, In particular, they would like to promote income-generation activities.