Original story posted on the Health GAP website here.
Shadreck lives in Mangochi, Malawi and each time he needs to pick up his HIV medicines or see a healthcare worker, he has to walk six hours in both directions from his home.
It should not be this difficult and disruptive to pick up a prescription or see a doctor. And sadly, the truth is, Shadreck is not alone. For many people living with HIV in Malawi, it often takes the better part of a day to access the life-saving medicines and healthcare they need.
This may be the status quo, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
It is possible to meet people living with HIV where they are—by investing in community health workers and using innovative approaches to deliver health services at the community level, where they are needed most.
This is why Health GAP is working with activists in Malawi to win these—and other—improvements in HIV and tuberculosis (TB) service delivery through better and smarter use of funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In Malawi, PEPFAR finances 40% of the HIV response so it is critical for people living with HIV and TB that these resources are used to achieve the greatest possible impact. One way of doing this is by engaging in PEPFAR’s yearly Country Operational Planning (COP) process.
This year, we’ve worked with people living with HIV and other activists in Malawi to do just that. Together, we started by conducting community monitoring at health clinics across the country and speaking to people living with HIV to identify the most pressing problems. Their voices are captured in Liu Lathu Mu COP19 (which literally translates to “community voices” in Chichewa) outlining the key gaps in the national HIV and TB response and the community’s priorities for PEPFAR that would transform things. With powerful and informed activism, led by people living with HIV, we can win changes that improve the lives of people living with HIV––people like Shadreck.