Blantyre to construct HIV prevention data pipeline that connects fragmented data sources

Director of Health and Social Services for Blantyre, Dr. Gift Kawalazira, has outlined plans to construct an HIV prevention data pipeline that connects fragmented data sources and configures access points for decision-makers and data users to have routine access to curated prevention information and custom analyses.

Kawalazira also disclosed that they intend to develop an adaptive learning framework to monitor prevention impact and adjust programmes.

He made the remarks during his presentation at the Malawi Partnership Forum (MPF) in Lilongwe on Friday. The National Aids Commission (NAC) organized the forum, which drew participants from various civil society organizations and UNAIDS.

MPF Co-Chairperson Mara Kum’bweza Banda making her welcome remarks–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The presentation focused on key progress made and challenges the district has faced in the implementation of the Blantyre Prevention Strategy.

The strategy was developed to catalyze development of an innovative and data-driven HIV prevention delivery system at the district level in Blantyre, Malawi, that is equipped to detect and target risk, generate demand, effectively deliver prevention products and interventions, and enable effective and sustained use of prevention products by the end user.

It also monitors programme performance and impact; and embeds key functions within local systems for sustained performance.

Delegates observing a minute of silencing in honour of those who died of Aids–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

In his remarks, Kawalazira said persistent reservoirs of infection threaten long-term epidemic control despite existing effective prevention interventions and emerging novel prevention products.

However, the Director of Health and Social Services emphasized that the strategy will make investments along the HIV prevention cascade and in the six key enablers in order to reach outcomes.

“Through the strategy, we will establish a district-based system that will enhance the means, effectiveness, and outputs of service delivery and create a more straightforward pathway for government and partners to invest locally and cohesively, resulting in a state of reduced HIV incidence and sustainable control of the epidemic,” said Kawalazira.

Among other achievements, Blantyre has launched PALMS External with core HIV-related indicators now being used for decision-making at national and district levels.

It has also enhanced access to key data sources negotiated and data integrated into the pipeline.

During the conference, participants lamented that Covid-19 has put the world even further behind its efforts to end Aids by 2030.

As the Fast-Track era draws to a close, UNAIDS worked with partners to develop a set of proposed targets for 2025. These targets place people living with HIV and communities at risk at the centre of the response.

Fast-Track Cities Initiative was launched in December 2014, together with the core Fast-Track Cities partners, including UNAIDS, The City of Paris, UN Habitat and the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care.

The meeting called on mayors from key cites to fast-track their AIDS responses towards ending the epidemic by 2030.

During the MPF meeting in Lilongwe, it was also reported during the meeting that HIV prevalence and transmission is higher in cities in Malawi.

In addition, the Paris Declaration on Ending AIDS in Cities was launched at the meeting in 2014, where 25 mayors from cities across the World signed the declaration, and committed to fast tracking the response, reaching ambitious targets, forging strategic partnership and agreeing to address significant disparities in access to services, social justice and economic opportunity.

In her opening remarks, MPF Co-Chairperson, Mara Kum’bweza Banda, disclosed that they are participating in the process of developing a number of key strategic documents, which include the successor HIV Prevention Strategy, revising the National HIV and AIDS Policy, workplace policy, HIV Mainstreaming Guidelines, among others.

Banda therefore appealed to members to effectively discuss and conclude issues that would be brought to the 61st MPF session by chairpersons of various Technical Working groups (TWG) and other stakeholders.

At the same function, Banda asked delegates to observe a minute of silence in honour of late Dickens Kolondo and late Dr. Paul Farmer.

Kolondo was a founding member of NAPHAM and MANET+. He died recently in Lilongwe.

On the other hand, Farmer died on 21st February, 2022, in his sleep in Rwanda at the age of 62.

Farmer was Global Health and Equity champion whose work on HIV, treatment resistant TB and NCDs was in 12 countries including Rwanda, Haiti, Russia and Malawi.

“We join the Global health fraternity, the Partners in Health family, in grieving his untimely death. May the Soul of Dr. Paul Farmer rest in peace and may all of us in this room make a renewed commitment to fight TB, HIV and Social injustice and inequities,” said Banda.

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