Capacity-building on delivering comprehensive HIV services held In The Bahamas
(PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan-Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) and The Bahamas Ministry of Health National AIDS Programme coordinated a learning exchange on The Bahamas’s experience in the implementation of Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The capacity-building initiative was held from 6 -10 May 2019 and also focused on “Treat All”, the transition to Dolutegravir, and laboratory support for viral suppression.
The initiative was led by Dr Shanti Singh-Anthony, PANCAP Knowledge Management Coordinator. Dr. Singh-Anthony explained that the learning exchange was designed for participants to experience first-hand the process the Ministry’s National AIDS Programme used to coordinate and collaborate with civil society organisations, the private sector, and other stakeholders to deliver comprehensive HIV services to communities, particularly key populations.
Dr. Singh-Anthony also said that participants were exposed to critical aspects of The Bahamas’ PrEP programme and benefitted from an explanation of how the country transitioned to the use of the highly effective antiretroviral therapy, Dolutegravir.
The countries participating in the learning exchange event included Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
Multi-disciplinary country teams participated in the event. The teams comprised National AIDS Programme Managers, Clinical Care Coordinators, HIV clinicians and representatives of civil society organisation (CSO) who work closely with the national programme in the implementation of PrEP and other aspects of the HIV response.
Dr. Singh-Anthony explained that site visits were conducted to community clinics where participants interacted with key clinic staff in the areas of HIV testing, treatment, community outreach, documentation, and monitoring and reporting. This allowed participants to understand how services are organised and delivered, the number and skill set of the clinical team, and other resources available for supporting service delivery.
Participants also interacted with the beneficiaries of the clinics, particularly key populations and participated in community outreach activities led by the National AIDS Programme and CSO teams aimed at increasing access to services by key populations.
Dr Singh-Anthony believes that the Learning Exchange is critical to the implementation of PrEP in the Region.
“The Caribbean is on the cusp of fully embracing and implementing PrEP. Hence, it was crucial for PANCAP to lead this multidisciplinary team on a learning journey to expand their understanding of how PrEP can improve clinical management and outcomes for individuals at risk for HIV. The overarching aim is for the Learning Exchange to act as an impetus for more expansion of knowledge on PrEP and its eventual implementation across the Region,” she said.
The Learning Exchange forms part of the PANCAP Knowledge for Health Project with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).