Reducing HIV transmission in Ethiopia
Amref Health Africa has partnered with ViiV Healthcare Positive Action to deliver an ambitious HIV programme in two of Ethiopia's Developing Regional States (DRS)*.
The overall objective of this 18-month project is to strengthen the capacity of both regions’ health systems in terms of HIV testing and counselling, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV – ultimately contributing to a reduction in maternal and child morbidity and mortality.
The project aims to contribute towards reducing PMTCT of HIV to less than 5%, in line with the national health strategic plan; as well as contributing to the elimination of HIV by 2030 (as per Ethiopia’s HIV prevention and control strategy).
This will be achieved by:
- improving the testing and diagnostic capacity of health facilities, ensuring no pregnant woman goes untested during the pregnancy, perinatal and postnatal periods;
- building the capacity of health workers and service providers, including their capacity to provide counselling to women living with HIV;
- improving the quality of care at health centres and hospitals;
- reducing stigma through social and behaviour change communication;
- strengthening coordination and referral structures between different kinds of health facility; and
- sharing learning.
The ViiV Healthcare Positive Action programme complements two existing initiatives which aim to improve health outcomes for mothers and children in the same regions. Since 2017, Amref has been implementing a USAID-funded programme in all four DRS (Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, and Somali) to improve essential maternal, neo-natal and child health (MNCH) services. In 2021, GSK began funding a programme that incorporates tuberculosis (TB) and malaria services for these groups in Afar and Somali Regions . Because people living with HIV are more susceptible to both TB and malaria, the ViiV programme has been designed to align with and enhance the impact of these programmes.
In Ethiopia, as elsewhere, the diversion of resources to the COVID-19 response has had a negative impact on routine health services such as HIV, TB, malaria, and MNCH – making programmes like these all the more vital.
Our impact to date
The ViiV Healthcare Positive Action project launched in October 2021. In Afar, implementation has been affected by the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Tigray; however, as of February 2022, staff recruitment was complete, and a project launch workshop had been held in both regions.
The conflict in Ethiopia has had an impact on 13 Amref-run projects across the Afar and Amhara Regions, both of which border Tigray. An estimated 2.2 million people living in Afar and Amhara have been affected by the conflict.1,500 health facilities are non-functional due to destruction and looting, and many health professionals have been displaced, resulting in a significant disruption to services. Amref’s priorities are to ensure continuity of service delivery where possible and to support Public Health Emergency Management efforts as the situation evolves.
*DRS: In 2010, four “Developing Regional States” (Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Somali) were identified by a UN Flagship Joint Programme. These were classified in line with the Ethiopian government’s policy “to increase resilience, enhance public service delivery and accelerate equitable human development in the most marginal parts of Ethiopia” – which means there is a focus on strengthening public service delivery in these regions in order to improve key indicators (many of them health-related) and reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Image (c) Girma Berta for Amref Health Africa, 2019. This image shows a baby being immunised at a health post in Gambella and has been used for illustrative purposes only.