SMDP Alumni Share Successes at 2007 Conference
Participants of the 2007 SMDP Alumni Conference
GABORONE - Graduates of the Sustainable Management Development Program (SMDP) had much to say at the 2007 Alumni Conference about the successes of their health programs on HIV/AIDS and TB services around Botswana.
The theme of May 22nd Alumni Conference was "Improving Public Health Management for Sustainable Development Programs - A Healthier Botswana by 2016." Public health managers gathered at the GICC shared knowledge and skills on everything from improved sputum collection to increased couples counseling and testing.
SMDP is a certificate course developed through the collaborative efforts of the Institute of Development Management (IDM), BOTUSA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. Botswana's participation in SMDP began in 2000 and the first group graduated in 2003.
The course targets managers working in public health from the public, private and non-governmental sectors and has two important objectives: 1) Empower public health managers with better leadership, management, and decision-making skills; and 2) Stimulate creativity and innovation among managers to improve the delivery of public health services.
The first presentation at the 2007 Alumni Conference was by Cynthia Caiphus, the TB Coordinator in the Kanye/Moshupa Sub- District. Her team focused on a project to improve sputum collection at 6 months in her district.
Caiphus stated that from July to December 2004, 83 out of 106 TB patients (or 78%) in five clinics did not have sputum collected at six months as per TB treatment protocol. After SMDP training, the team investigated the problem and came up with countermeasures that included educating patients on importance of sputum collection; educating health workers on stock management; and training of health workers on the TB program and the importance of adherence to treatment protocol.
"We began putting more emphasis on customer care. The privacy of patients was emphasized in order to cut down on stigma that kept patients from coming for sputum collection," Caiphus said.
After the count measures put in place, May to August 2005 showed that the percentage of non-collection at 6 months had dropped from 78% to 39%. In another presentation, Segametsi Segosebe, a Tebelopele manager in Maun, spoke about improving the uptake of couple HIV counseling and testing at the Maun Centre.
In September 2006, just 10% of the 13,088 clients tested for HIV as couples. It was evident that some of the clients that tested as individuals had actually wished to test as couples, Segosebe said, but they did not know much about the availability of Couples HIV Counseling and Testing (CHCT) services.
After counter measures were put in place - including more promotional materials, daily educational talks at the center and outreach targeting couples during weddings at the Kgotla, DC's office and church - numbers of couples testing increased to greater than 15%.