Liberia’s National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCP) is actively planning the scale-up of its community-based HIV differentiated service delivery (DSD) programs for recipients of care.
Since joining the CQUIN network in September 2019, Liberia has aimed to leverage the power of south-to-south learning to scale up its community-based HIV treatment models. To this end, CQUIN supported a delegation from the Liberia NASCP, led by Samretta Caldwell, the deputy manager for Programs and Clinical Services, to visit Nigeria to learn more about how Nigeria’s Ministry of Health and its partners have implemented community-based DSD models.
“Liberia is very interested in Nigeria’s experience with the community-based private pharmacy model for antiretroviral therapy (ART) dispensing,” said Caldwell. “Liberia is currently piloting a pharmacy model with a local partner in Liberia’s Montserrado county at one of our high-burden facilities. This trip was a chance for our team to learn from the Nigerian team how they are managing this type of public-private partnership,” she said.
The trip was also an opportunity for the Liberian delegation to observe Nigeria’s approach to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of DSD models. “Liberia is making big strides in moving to an electronic system for data collection, but we are still using paper-based recording tools in our facilities. The trip gave us insight into how to phase out the paper-based system,” said Caldwell.
From September 13 to 18, 2021, members of the visiting delegation led by Caldwell and accompanied by Claudius Paye, data manager for NASCP Liberia, and Wokie Cole, president of the Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV, LIBNETP+, visited Nigeria’s DSD stakeholders, as well as health facilities to observe Nigeria’s differentiated service delivery in action. The Liberia team met with Nigeria’s National AIDS and STI Control Program of the Federal Ministry of Health, in Abuja, Nigeria. They then traveled to Akwa Ibom state, where they met with the Akwa Ibom Regional AIDS and STI Control Program to learn more about DSD at the subnational level. They also made three site visits to witness the implementation of the pharmacy-based models, the M&E system, and the provision of adolescent peer and health support at a youth center.
“We got to speak with team members as well as recipients of care on their experiences, challenges, and best practices, which is better than just reading policy. This visit has helped us envision the possibilities for our national move to digital systems,” said Caldwell.
Within the following year, Liberia will scale up its community-based DSD models to fully include DSD M&E in the national database to monitor implementation progress and expand its community-based pharmacy model.
“With the lessons learned on this trip, Liberia is looking to increase coverage of the Pharmacy model to more facilities, especially our high burdened urban facilities. Currently, there is only one facility involved with ten pharmacies. We intend to move to three additional high burden facilities and 15 additional private pharmacies,” Caldwell said.