By: Lunga Memela (Communications Engagement Lead)
Colleagues from UCSF OPIQ, the Department of Health and HST celebrating the launch of the new health resources.
The University of California San Francisco's (UCSF) Optimizing Performance by Improving Quality (OPIQ) Project has launched a Spotlights Compendium together with an HIV Tracing and Recall Script (TRS) User Guide to better manage TB and HIV, with a strong focus on reaching the UNAIDS 95-95-95 Fast-Track Targets aimed at ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
These new resources which can be downloaded online (Spotlights and TRS) were developed within two years in 12 health districts situated within South Africa's Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces from a corporative agreement between OPIQ and four Department of Health (DoH) District Support Partners (DSPs) – Health Systems Trust, TB HIV Care, The Aurum Institute and Wits RHI.
Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) the Spotlights Compendium and TRS User Guide were launched at the Capital Pearls Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks on 24 May 2022, announcing the remarkable development of 20 quality improvement Spotlights which are a clear, concise and useful guide designed to help health professionals provide improved care to clients. The Spotlights cover a range of topics, giving guidance on case finding, decanting, records management, retention, TLD (tenofovir, lamivudine and dolutegravir) implementation, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) and viral load monitoring.
OPIQ also worked with the DSPs to develop a TRS User Guide that forms part of the tools to be used during the implementation of the Department of Health's Welcome Back Campaign Strategy which seeks to support re-engagement and retention of people living with HIV who were diagnosed, but never initiated on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and those who were initiated on treatment and interrupted ART or missed ART appointments. It was stressed at the event that the TRS is to be used in a manner that is non-accusatory and non-judgemental, but rather that seeks to make the client feel supported and welcomed back at the health facility.
The TRS User Guide will be used in conjunction with the 8th standard operating procedure of the National Adherence Guidelines of HIV, TB and non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) of March 2020. The document is available in eight of South Africa's 11 official languages, which is an impressive feat that truly enables access to information. The guide can also be used for both the telephonic and physical tracing of clients. The TRS is aimed at guiding messaging/language around tracing and recall of clients who were unable to return to the facility within 7 calendar days of their scheduled appointments including:
Jaqui Ngozo (KZN DoH Director of the Tuberculosis Control Programme, HIV and STI); Dr Hloniphile Mabuza (UCSF OPIQ Technical Director); HST's SA SURE Project Operations Manager, Felicity Basson; Dr Diane Morof (Associate Director of Programmes KwaZulu-Natal, Division of Global HIV & TB: U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention); and Dr Gugu Mona (Senior Clinical Advisor, Quality Improvement, Division of Global HIV & TB: U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) unboxing the Spotlights Compendium and Tracing and Recall Script User Guide at the event.
The event was attended by Dr Diane Morof (Associate Director of Programmes KwaZulu-Natal, Division of Global HIV & TB: U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), who applauded HST's collaboration with OPIQ and the DoH, saying it was a positive move towards the desired epidemic control. She said such partnerships were essential for establishing best practices and creating a real impact in turning the tide against the HIV pandemic.
HST's SA SURE Project Operations Manager, Felicity Basson.
HST's SA SURE Project Operations Manager, Felicity Basson, said the occasion celebrates an enriching and important journey of translating innovative practice into knowledge. "In all of our programme and project work over the past 30 years, HST has been committed to knowledge-sharing. This entails documenting our data-driven implementation experiences from the field, and compiling accessible accounts of promising models and change ideals for effective health service delivery. The Spotlight stories demonstrate the value of these efforts."
Basson said the continued partnership with OPIQ has brought expertise in data visualisation, informatics and implementation science to our implementers. "All colleagues benefit from the capacity-building in data literacy and writing skills, and the professional growth that they will gain through authorship of the final outputs." She said it was critical for all health professionals to gain access to both the Spotlights Compendium and the TRS User Guide.
Dr Hloniphile Mabuza (UCSF OPIQ Technical Director); CDC Associate Director (Programmes) Dr Diane Morof; and Jaqui Ngozo (KZN DoH Director: TB Control Programme, HIV and STI).
UCSF OPIQ Technical Director, Dr Hloniphile Mabuza applauded HST and the other DSPs for their hands-on contribution in the development of both resources. She said the products are evidence that collaboration, and not competition, are what will foster resilient health system quality improvement as a continuous process. She said it is envisaged that the two publications will improve the quality of services in the health sector.
Mabuza stressed that quality improvement is a continuous process. "It is the combined unceasing efforts of everyone to make the changes that will lead to better patient outcomes, better system performance and better professional development." Mabuza said the launch was a celebration, but also an indication that a lot is still to be done. She said it was critical for South Africa to reach epidemic control, and that everybody must play their part.
The Project Director for the UCSF OPIQ Project, Thulani Mbatha, said "We are indebted to your [HST's] support to the OPIQ project team. Especially as we continue to work with HST and eThekwini Health District in providing technical assistance, evidence-based Quality Improvement methodologies to foster a data-driven approach to improve HIV and HIV/TB program performance in the province. OPIQ is committed to address QI performance gaps of DOH by working jointly with HST."
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