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Delivering lifesaving support against all odds

May 01, 2012

In Nepal, when a bandh (general strike) is called, people stay in their homes, children don’t attend school and services, such as public transportation, are halted. For people living with HIV and on antiretroviral treatment, bandhs are more than an inconvenience; they can be life threatening. For more than 26 days, between April and May 2012, people living with HIV in Nepal’s Far-Western region faced continuous bandhs that restricted their ability to access essential antiretroviral (ARV) medicine from government treatment centers.

Staff from the Saath-Saath project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, were determined to continue the supply of ARV medicine to those in need. Project staff coordinated with staff from the project’s local nongovernmental organization (NGO) partner, Asha Kiran Pratisthan, and the Seti Zonal Hospital to obtain ARV medicine, even as security worsened throughout the strikes.

The Saath-Saath project mapped the location of over 35 homes with HIV-infected individuals in need of ARV medicine, and the project’s Community Home Based Care (CHBC) team walked or rode bicycles to deliver lifesaving treatment directly into the homes of people living with HIV (PLHIV). Using a “relay-race method” to distribute the supplies across six communities in the Kailali district, the CHBC team carried banners that read “Delivering essential ARV medicine to PLHIV.”

The Saath-Saath project aims to decrease HIV prevalence, promote family planning services, build local capacity, increase the quality and use of HIV services, strengthen coordination among HIV partners and ensure safe medical waste management at clinics. The project is implemented by FHI 360 in partnership with the Government of Nepal in 33 districts across the country through more than 40 local NGOs.