Rooting out HIV using mobile phones

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In Malawi, a Non-Governmental-Organization (NGO), Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) has been using the mobile gadgets in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE) Project.

“The project was started in 2009 by Humana NetherIands together with DAPP and involves field workers gathering information on HIV and AIDS in the catchment areas through interviewing clients. They then file the collected data to our centre where it is analyzed and stored for use by stakeholders,” said DAPP Programme Coordinator Florence Longwe.

Cecil Gada, a Field Officer involved in the collecting of data using mobile phones through interrogating clients in Thyolo District and compiling it on the mobile phone’s soft ware in the in project said a lot of people appreciate the approach to reach them on HIV and AIDS subjects.

“During data collection each person is talked to individually and this has assisted many of those who would have otherwise not talked about HIV and AIDS. The fact that we walk from house to house even creates a better understanding between the programme implementers and the people,” he said.

However, Gada said despite some successes in the project there was a need to also address some challenges in HIV and AIDS fight in the areas covered by the project.

“These gaps for instance include the need to sensitize clients on the Prevention Mother To Child [HIV and AIDS] Transmission (PMTCT) since our survey revealed that only very few people are aware that HIV is transmitted through this mode,” said Gada.

He disclosed that another existing gap was in low condom distribution in the project’s safe sex campaign to prevent HIV and AIDS prevention.

Lonjezo Majoni also another Field Officer disclosed that there have been a lot of traditions in the areas covered that blocked open discussions about the epidemic that they have been addressing while in the field.

“The issues include condom use, pregnancy, early marriages, and sexuality in general and have not been easy to talk about. However, our interacting with each person at home offers us an opportunity to address such issues in privacy,” she said.

One of the clients, 34-year-old mother of one Dyna Mangani from Thunga Village in Thyolo said she saw it necessary to give out information to field on HIV and AIDS.

“The field officers also conduct HIV and AIDS testing and counselling therefore I went for HIV and AIDS testing, I know my status and was counselled. I am even now living positively with the virus,” she said.

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