Where compliance is king

This is the ninth in our series of FrontlineSMS guest posts. In this latest post Aurelio Gomes, who works out of Universidade Catolica de Mocambique, explains their use of the software in monitoring and improving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) compliance among rural communities in Mozambique

Thanks to the US President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), increasing numbers of HIV-infected people living in poor countries have been given access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Successful treatment of HIV depends upon ART recipients maintaining a compliance rate of 95% or higher to prevent the emergence of drug resistance. The commonly used first-line regimen has a low genetic barrier to resistance when dosing is below recommended levels. Not only does widespread resistance lead to a need for costly second-line regimens, but it also threatens to reverse ART survival gains. Worst still, resistant HIV may also be transmitted to others, severely limiting treatment options.

Clinic, Mozambique (courtesy Aurelio Gomes)

As ART therapy becomes more widely prescribed in Sub-Saharan Africa, suitable systems to ensure patient compliance have to be designed and implemented to maximize ART effectiveness. This is especially necessary in rural areas of Africa. Mozambique exemplifies this situation since 80% of the total Mozambican population are rural. Patients are difficult to locate because formal postal addresses don’t exist in these areas. As in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, residents are not connected to the electricity grid, and lack regular phone service or access to clean water. Stigma and discrimination increase the challenge of ensuring compliance, as HIV- positive individuals are often very concerned about their privacy.

Following initial technical assistance from our partners at Inveneo, we have been successfully using FrontlineSMS for several months to facilitate communication between the HIV treatment centers and the community health care workers (CHWs) deployed in remote rural areas. These CHWs are armed with mobile phones, enabling communication to flow more quickly and accurately, leading to an improvement in health care delivery.

Our FrontlineSMS-driven communication system is helping us maintain a 95% and higher compliance of ARV therapy, crucial for the patient, the success of our programme and efforts to reduce the chances of development of drug-resistant strains of the virus.

Aurelio Gomes
Project Coordinator
Universidade Catolica de Mocambique
www.ucm.ac.mz

Sitcoms+SMS: Tackling HIV/AIDS in the DRC

In this, the first of a series of guest posts on how FrontlineSMS is being used around the world, Becky McLaughlin – Marketing Director at Rien que la Vérité – talks about their current use of the platform, and the impact it has had on their work

“Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rien que la Vérité was born in 2006 when some of the finest musicians in the Congo united to produce a CD of songs speaking against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Since 2006, the Rien que la Vérité platform has produced 14 music videos, a documentary, and an all-day stadium concert. In its present incarnation, Rien que la Vérité is touching the lives of the people of the Congo through their television screens as they follow the lives of a Kinois family on a locally-produced TV drama.

rqlv_family_ad

Rien que la Vérité – the TV series – launched nationally on November 30th, 2008 and first implemented FrontlineSMS in the airing of its second episode on December 14th. Each episode broadcast is accompanied by short talk-show segments during which a host introduces music clips, talks to well-known musicians and actors, and interviews representatives from local NGOs and organizations whose message dovetails with a theme introduced in the show.

During the December 14th show, the audience was invited to participate by sending an SMS with the name of their favorite character. The responses were collected using FrontlineSMS. This simple first step allowed Rien que la Vérité to test the software and to begin an exploration of our audience’s perceptions and preferences. As the show continues we plan to introduce more simple polls that will help tailor the show to the audience’s tastes, and give viewers a sense of ownership of the program.

drc-tv-frontlinesms

This, however, is the most basic use we foresee. We are now launching a drive to support fan clubs, so that people who watch the show can find each other, meet, and talk about the show and the topics it introduces – a process that will begin to normalize conversation about HIV/AIDS. We’ll use FrontlineSMS to collect contact information from interested fans, then broadcast messages with times and locations for local club gatherings. We also intend to use FrontlineSMS in our research for measuring the impact the show has on our target audience. We’ll send out questions via SMS to fans before and after each show, measuring any changes in attitude, knowledge, or self-reported practices due to exposure to the show’s messaging.

FrontlineSMS will be a critical tool in our goal to entertain and educate. Like its television format, Rien que la Vérité’s future development must remain grassroots, and FrontlineSMS is an excellent vehicle for this.”

Becky McLaughlin
Marketing Director
Rien que la Vérité
www.abcd-laverite.com