The University of Zambia (UNZA) has launched the home based Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) project in Monze district aimed at strengthening HIV research prevention strategies and institution capacity building.
Speaking during the launch of the program at Nzango Gardens in Monze yesterday, Project Investigator, Dr.Charles Michelo said that the project was designed to investigate the acceptability, feasibility, preventive impact and cost effectiveness of home based VCT .
The project is a pilot project that would be undertaken in partnership with the University of Bergen in Norway as a way of trying to increase the uptake of VCT in Zambia.
Dr. Michelo said the project will be conducted in Njolamwanza and Nampeyo of Monze district .
Dr.Michelo said that once the home based VCT is acceptable and feasible in the two selected communities, it would be recommended to the policy makers in government to scale up the service to many other parts of the country.
He said that this would help improve delivery of VCT services to communities and further improve HIV/AIDS awareness.
Dr.Michelo said the project would run for period of six months within which the baseline survey would be conducted followed by the intervention to ensure implementation of the program in the two selected areas in Monze.
He said that the last part of the project would involve conducting an assessment to determine whether there would be changes in the up take of VCT, sexual behaviour, attitudes, knowledge of HIV and stigma related to HIV infection.
Monze District Commissioner Joyce Nondo the home based VCT was a new approach that would raise awareness by availing communities a rare opportunity to having the services by their door steps.
Mrs. Nondo said that many people could not access VCT services due to long distances from the centers in their communities especially rural areas.
She said that this approach would help fill the gap by taking the services to individual homes and families.
The district commissioner urged people who had not been counselled and tested to take advantage of the service and be tested.
She said that VCT was an important element in HIV prevention as it offered a gateway to other preventive and treatment opportunities.
Monze Mission Hospital Executive Director Dr. John Mvula has commended UNZA and Bergen university of Norway on behalf of the district health management team(DHMT)for choosing Monze district as a pilot project.
Dr.Mvula said it was imperative for all stakeholders to join effort for the project to succeed so that Monze district could remain a role model on the map of Zambia.
He said that HIV/AIDS care should not only be left to the health sector alone but should take a multi-sectoral approach.
Dr. Mvula added that the project would be a very valuable strategy in as far as a comprehensive HIV/AIDS care could be achieved.
Monze district has a total population of 217000 with the two project sites located east of Monze having about 17000 people for Njolamwanza and Nampeyo 9000 people.