PATA Summit in Cameroon advocates for better Service Delivery in Care and Treatment for Children and Adolescents living with HIV

PATA Summit in Cameroon advocates for better Service Delivery in Care and Treatment for Children and Adolescents living with HIV

By Clementina Njang Yong

The Paediatric Adolescent AIDS Treatment Africa (PATA) 2021 Virtual Summit has taken place in Cameroon hosted by the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services under the theme “‘Clinic and Community in Conversation: Closing the gap for Children and Adolescents in the HIV Response”. The summit took place from November 1-3, 2021 at the CBC Health Services Mvan Resource Center in Yaounde. The summit saw 31 Service providers and Adolescent Champions connect to a centralized platform with online streaming from South Africa. The virtual summit, which is the second to be hosted in Cameroon by the CBC Health Services, took place in strict respect of the COVID-19 restriction measures. The summit builds the capacity of health providers towards closing the gap for children and adolescents in the HIV response both in health facilities and communities. The platform was an opportunity for health providers in sub-Saharan Africa to share their experiences and engage in peer-to-peer learning to improve paediatric and adolescent HIV treatment. Due to diversion of resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been limited access of children, adolescents, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services. The pandemic also increased the workload on health workers and has been accompanied by personal health risks, stress, and even burnout, a workload that is rarely accompanied by additional support, management, or training. From this background, the Summit, therefore, aimed at strengthening partnership, building resilience and skills of those on the frontline of service delivery, and improving HIV service delivery for children and adolescents for better coordination and impact. Opening the Summit in Yaounde, the Director of the CBC Health Services, Prof. Tih Pius Muffih remarked on the continuous and remarkable progress in the HIV response in Cameroon, with AIDS-related deaths on the decline. He, however, noted the gaps and missed targets for Children and Adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa where 88% of Children Living with HIV are located. The public health expert pointed out that Cameroon remains one of the countries with slow progress towards meeting the HIV 95-95-95 treatment targets, especially in children and adolescents. Current activities put in place are intended to reduce the gaps and improve service delivery in Care and Treatment for Children and Adolescents living with HIV. The Paediatric Adolescent AIDS Treatment Africa (PATA) recommended strategies to close the gap and ensure that Children and Adolescents receive the care they deserve. Addressing participants, the Chief of Service for HIV and AIDS in the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon, Dr. Ketchaji Alice intimated that Paediatric and Adolescent Care and Treatment remains a major challenge in Cameroon in spite of the several strategies put in place. The government official made it known that the Government of Cameroon has done a lot in this domain by giving free testing to Children and Adolescents, providing them with free ARVs, ​

training health providers in the care of Infants and Adolescents with HIV, and carried out an elaboration of the Care and Treatment guidelines for Paediatric and Adolescent Care, all in collaboration with implementing partners like the CBC Health Services. The Government and implementing partners in the HIV response are therefore putting in place novel concepts to change the statistics. One of such concepts is Adolescent Champions who are young people living with HIV who have overcome stigma and other challenges of taking treatment; they work closely with their peers to ensure that they take their treatment effectively, monitor their peers to attain a suppressed viral load, and equally offer them psychosocial support. Adolescent Champions in the HIV Free Project of the CBC Health Services in Cameroon were highly represented in the PATA Summit and actively participated during discussions. PATA 2021 held in in-Country Spokes across 20 Countries in Africa.

training health providers in the care of Infants and Adolescents with HIV, and carried out an elaboration of the Care and Treatment guidelines for Paediatric and Adolescent Care, all in collaboration with implementing partners like the CBC Health Services. The Government and implementing partners in the HIV response are therefore putting in place novel concepts to change the statistics. One of such concepts is Adolescent Champions who are young people living with HIV who have overcome stigma and other challenges of taking treatment; they work closely with their peers to ensure that they take their treatment effectively, monitor their peers to attain a suppressed viral load, and equally offer them psychosocial support. Adolescent Champions in the HIV Free Project of the CBC Health Services in Cameroon were highly represented in the PATA Summit and actively participated during discussions. PATA 2021 held in in-Country Spokes across 20 Countries in Africa.