Anti-retroviral medicine and staff for the IHCC clinic – 2006-2009
“What would be your dream if money would be of no concern?”, was the question we asked Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye, founder of the IHCC clinic in Accra, Ghana, in january 2006. “I would like to be able to prescribe anti-retroviral therapy to my HIV-infected patients”, was her immediate answer.
The reason for our conversation with Naa Ashiley was the promised donation of €20.000,- by ‘De Trut’ . We wanted to find the best way to spend this donation, while making the biggest impact on the care for AIDS/HIV patients in the clinic.
Anti-retroviral medicine in Ghana
The prescription of Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART), is far from normal procedure in Ghana, for most patients. Until a short while ago, the available treatments for AIDS patients in the clinic were: treatment of infections, improvement of general condition by giving vitamin supplements and hospice care.
ART is available in Ghana since 2003, but could only be given to patients in the fortunate position to be able to pay the necessary 500 dollars a month, which is literally a fortune for the people treated at the IHCC clinic.
Thanks to a program sponsored by The Global Fund, and in cooperation with the Ghanaian government, ART is now available for everybody who can afford only 5 dollars a month for the treatment. Even this relatively small amount can be a problem for the poorest of patients, but for now the government does not have plans to provide the treatment for free.
At this moment, 9 out of 10 large regional hospitals, and a number of mission hospitals and company hospitals are giving ART to their patients within this program. In order to be accepted however, hospitals need to comply to a set of strict criteria.
Despite the growing number of hospitals and other medical organisations that have been accredited, most of these are located in the richer southern part of Ghana in the bigger cities. For most HIV patients from the poorer northern regions, the treatment is still – literally – very far away.
In our conversation, Naa Ashiley’s dream raised the following question with us: “Could we maybe use the donation of De Trut to overcome all the obstacles in getting the clinic accredited in the ART program? And what are exactly the criteria to which the clinic cannot comply at this moment?”
The situation at that moment was that the clinic would theoretically be accredited, if not for two major obstacles:
- The clinic needed to have a well equipped laboratory, with in it a very important instrument: a ‘CD4-count machine’ for conducting some critical blood tests.
- The clinic needed to have qualified permanent staff: a doctor, a laboratory technician, a registered nurse and a nurse assistant.
The laboratory had been realized some time ago, thanks to the Focus on Aids initiative. The clinic already had a doctor and a laboratory technician, but still lacking was the needed -and very expensive- CD4-count machine and the capability to pay for the salaries of the two nurses.
- By donating €12.000,- for the CD4-count machine, the IHCC clinic was able to take part in a program of the Stanford University and the World Wide Aids Coalition, who in their turn paid for the remaining amount of money for the $40.000,- costing CD4-machine and provided technical assistance and training during the whole process.
Further, the donation is being used to pay the salary of a registered nurse and a nurse assistant, for a period of two years (april 2006 until march 2008).
Adequate medical care starts with trained and motivated personnel, and – besides being a requirement in the ART program – is a huge improvement for the clinic, because getting funding for ‘overhead-costs’ like salary of personnel is almost impossible for privately funded medical institutions in Africa.
A dream has come true
Getting through the whole accreditation process was quite a challenge. But Naa Ashiley held firm and the clinic was finally accredited end of 2006.
The CD4-count machine has been bought and installed, various training programs for the personnel have been completed, official permissions have been granted, educational material has come available and ART is being prescribed to patients as we speak.
A dream has come true! On behalf of Naa Ashiley Vanderpuye and her patients, we would like to thank Stichting Fonds De Trut for their very generous contribution.
Ongoing support from De Trut
In january of 2008 De Trut decided to support the IHCC clinic for one more year by donating another €3600,-. With this new donation, we supported the clinic until march 2009 with the salaries of qualified staff. The result was that the care for HIV/AIDS patients was improved, but most importantly, that the criteria for accreditation were met for another year, which guaranteed that anti-retroviral medicine could continue to be prescribed to patients in need.
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