Since its inception in 1999, WAAF in partnership with its onsite clinic, IHCC, ally NGOs, partners, stakeholders and donors have worked tirelessly to ensure adequate health for all Ghanaians and beyond. Some of these achievements continue under our current projects too.
2018 WAAF/IHCC – OUTREACH DATA ANALYSIS
In 2018 WAAF and IHCC conducted 19 different outreach events. The location of the event varied from event to event. However, one consistent aspect of these events was that they were conducted in hard to reach communities. Hard to reach communities include communities that are generally stigmatized or illegal, such as men who have sex with other men, and female sex workers. However, hard to reach communities may also mean areas that do not have easy access to a medical facility.
Through these outreach events WAAF and IHCC tested over 2400 individuals for HIV and over 1100 for Hepatitis B and found that approximately 2.12% of the individuals tested for HIV were positive. This represents a percentage in line with the current prevalence rate in Ghana. 6.06% of those tested for Hepatitis B were positive.
Figure 1 below shows the precise numbers associated with each of these percentages. Furthermore, approximately 1.90% of men who were tested for HIV tested positive, and about 2.21% of women tested were positive. Figure 2 below shows the precise numbers associated with those rates as well. Finally, approximately 7.91% of men tested for Hepatitis B tested positive, while just over 5% of women screened for Hepatitis B tested positive. Figure 3 below shows the numbers associated with these statistics.
A critical aspect of each of our outreach programs is that we educate and help initiate all positive cases onto treatment. In many cases, the location of the outreach will depend on how we attempt to do this. In some cases, we may refer them to our facility; in other cases, we may refer them to a facility that is closer and easier for them to access regularly for refills on their medication. Through education we aim to prevent the spreading of HIV and Hepatitis B along with other sexually transmitted diseases, and through initiating treatment we aim to limit the burden the disease may have on an individual’s life.
HIV and AIDS achievements
1. Hospice / Home Based Care
Starting off at the first ever hospice facility in Ghana, the International Health Care Centre (IHCC) chalked incredible results in assisting many PLHIV’s have a dignified death especially during the early stages of the epidemic when Anti-Retrovirals’ were non accessible.
Others too, passed through our hospice care and were able to bounce back to life and today hold positions on bodies like Nap+- Ghana and other HIV support groups. WAAF and IHCC also expanded the hospice services to PLHIV in the home setting where care and comfort was ensured to the very sick.
WAAF has also been very instrumental in the provision of Home Based Care, taking the leading role in the development of the National HIV and AIDS Home Based Care Training Manual commissioned by the Ghana AIDS Commission in 2016. Thereafter, WAAF has together with the GAC, trained a total of 100 individuals made up of Models of Hope, Nap+-Ghana representatives, Technical support unit staff of the GAC and many more involved in HIV care in Home Based Care.
Additionally, Support groups leaders have benefitted from trainings by WAAF and IHCC in HBC and today this has been able to allow for them to pass this knowledge on to others as well as ensure being able to take care of their peers at home.
2. Behaviour Change Communication
Since 1999, WAAF has reached out to millions of individuals, through various approaches with health prevention and behavioural change messages. Some of these approaches have been the use of Peer Education, outreaches, a musical concert in 2004 that brought together over 50, 000 Ghanaians, door to door and the use of media such as radio and social media. As a result, many have therefore been able to make informed choices to ensure health and wellbeing. WAAF continues to work towards promoting:
- Enhanced knowledge on HIV/AIDS, TB, STI’s as well as non-communicable diseases and more
- Changing attitudes and behaviours surrounding infections
- Encouragement to the general population, youth, adolescents and members of key populations about adopting a healthy lifestyle for the prevention and control of Infectious diseases.
Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission started in 2007 with support from the National AIDS Control Programme. Since then, thousands of women have and continue to benefit from this intervention both at the community and the clinic level where women are taken through counselling and testing, enrolled onto medicines (ARVs) if positive , babies tested as early as six weeks through Early Infant Diagnosis (EIDs), promotion of safe breast feeding options.
This has led to a 98% protection of babies born from HIV positive mothers since initiation of the program (2018). And WAAF continues to ensure it will do anything to contribute towards eliminating Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Ghana.
4. Access to Treatment, Care and Support
Through innovative means, WAAF continues to contribute to making health care accessible to all. Some of the approaches are: Community outreaches, use of Mobile Clinic ( VAN), Working at Drop in Centers, integration of services and strong collaborations with various stakeholders at various levels.
WAAF’s onsite clinic continues to retain a patient cohort of over 1300 HIV positive clients. In addition, over 150 TB patients have received treatment and counselling at the onsite clinic.
5. Access to HIV Testing and Counselling
From inception to date, HIV Testing Counselling (HTC) services have reached hundreds of thousands of individuals from all walks of life and from different age groups. Strategies used to reach individuals include community outreach, integration of services, provider initiated counselling and testing,(PICT), PMTCT, and know your status (KYS) campaigns.
6. Empowerment of Persons Living with HIV and other vulnerable persons / Key Populations
WAAF fosters self-sufficiency of PLHIV and vulnerable groups, and invests in enhancing their capacity through various means. Examples are: skills training in traditional crafts and farming, micro financing, models of hope training and many more. WAAF seeks to enhance the economic situation of its clients so they are self sufficient.
Through capacity building in program management and intellectual skills, WAAF ensures community members themselves are able to stand and speak on their behalf about matters that concern them. Through advocacy for representation of community members on decision making platforms, they are able to make their voices heard at the right place. Examples have been the effort WAAF made into revamping the National TB Voice Network, a network of persons who have lived TB before to ensure representation of this constituency on the Ghana CCM.
7. Key Populations (KP), (MSM, FSW, adolescents, young women, prisoners and PWD)
As has been evidenced, AIDS can never be ended without the involvement of all and this is more so for members of key populations. Due to various reasons, they continue to be at higher risk of HIV infection therefore interventions and strategies need to include and involve them. This therefore has been of priority to WAAF.
Through Drop in Centers, outreaches, site visits, Peer Education, mobile health outreaches, WAAF together with community members continue to reach out to members of the key populations on matters relating to health. Over 600 Men having Sex with Men (MSM), 500 Female Sex Worker (FSW), 300 prison inmates, thousands of women and adolescents, as well as a few People with Disabilities (PWD) have been and continue to be engaged.
WAAF also continues to use treatment as a gateway toward greater health education and prevention.
8. Community Outreach
WAAF has always been an advocate for differentiated service delivery as we have always believed in services being close to the communities. Asuch WAAF together with partners and allies, reach out to various communities with different services ranging from education to screening to treatment. In addition to the many community outreaches WAAF conducts to bring prevention and treatment services in the areas of HIV, TB, STIs and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to the communities, WAAF is seeking to scale these up to include issues such as sanitation, maternal and child health, and first aid techniques.
9. Stigma Reduction
WAAF continues to foster zero tolerance to any form of Human rights violation including HIV related stigma and discrimination. PLHIVs, MSMs, FSWs, health care workers, the general population have all been involved in one way or another by WAAF in the area of stigma reduction.
Worthwhile mentioning is the demand creation of the Discrimination Reporting System housed and managed by CHRAJ where WAAF conducted specific trainings for MSM, FSW, PLHIV and service providers on the existence, purpose and use of the platform.
WAAF also continues to promote the use of the platform via training workshops, peer education, at the clinic level and via one on one interaction. WAAF is also one of the few organizations that is GESI focused and continues to ensure member of the community and PLHIV are employed in the organization.
Capitalizing on value for money, WAAF ensures to integrate services and with TB being the major morbidity with Persons Living with HIV, TB is always part of our HIV efforts. Therefore TB prevention messages is incorporated in all HIV prevention efforts. WAAF has therefore reached out to millions of Ghanaians with TB prevention messages. This has led to many being aware of the signs of TB and reporting for screening when presumptive of TB.
2. Active Case Findings
WAAF efforts is focused on the 3 million TB cases that continue to go missing each year. Asuch WAAF has ensured to screen hundreds of thousands of people at community level for TB and has certainly contributed to many TB cases having been detected who would otherwise have been missed.
3. Contact Tracing of TB index cases
This approach has also been used to ensure no one is left behind. With contacts of TB index cases at a higher risk of contracting TB, contact tracing remains an important approach to WAAF and through this, WAAF has been able to confirm many cases of TB that would otherwise have been missed.
4. TB treatment (DOTs)
As an ART site, the WAAF onsite clinic, the International Health Care Center (IHCC), is also a Directly Observed Treatment short course (TB treatment) facility. At the clinic, people with TB have access to all TB related treatment.
5. TB/HIV integration
Again with TB being the number killer amongst Persons Living with HIV, TB is always integrated in WAAFs HIV work. From outreaches to linkage to care to treatment, WAAF adopts an HIV/TB integration approach.
6. Empowerment of TB constituency
To ensure Persons who have lived TB before, are able to put a face to their situations, stand up for their rights and can effectively advocate for policy change, WAAF revamped the National TB Voice Network, a constituency of Persons who are living / lived with TB and ensured they are represented on platforms where their voices can be heard. Asuch with WAAF’s NUWU (Nothing for us without Us) funded by the Stop TB Partnership, WAAF assisted two members of the TB Voice network get seats on the Ghana CCM.
Economic Empowerment Achievement
With the goal of sustainably supporting PLHIV and other vulnerable groups so they are self sufficient, WAAF started the Almond Tree project in 2004. Starting small with a few PLHIV at the then hospice, WAAF staff engaged them under a huge Almond Tree on the clinic premises in vocational skills training. Starting off with beads making, tye dye, sewing and then eventually other skills, WAAF was able to economically empower many PLHIV to be self sufficient. Products they made were either sold through international students interning/volunteering at WAAF and IHCC who would buy as souvenirs to showcasing and selling the products at local bazaars. Products were also take abroad by CCI volunteers at the time to be sold in Canada. Read more about the Almond Tree here.
General health and well being achievements
With a fully fledged onsite clinic, WAAF, although initially an HIV focused NGO has been able to ensure general health and wellbeing for many Ghanaians and a few individuals from outside Ghana.
Areas that have equally received attention from WAAF are:
- Non Communicable Diseases – Hypertension, Diabetes, Obesity
- Cancers – Breast cancer, Cervical Cancer and Prostate cancer
- Mental Health- Depression, HIV related dementia
- Everyday ailments such as Malaria, typhoid, allergies and so many more
Using its onsite clinic as the gateway to prevention, WAAF is aware of changing trends in society and takes it upon itself to embark on prevention messages and screening exercises on the conditions mentioned above. WAAF also looks for any possible partnership to ensure its efforts can reach a wider audience. In 2018 for instance, WAAF has joined the Battor Catholic Hospital in its efforts to prevent Cervical Cancer amongst targeted women in Ghana. WAAF’s focus is on ensuring that especially women living with HIV have access to secondary cervical cancer prevention services. In partnership with the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, a few partners in Nigeria and Ghana, WAAF is part of the West Africa Cervical Cancer Prevention Consortium being set up to ensure global cervical cancer prevention efforts.