HIV/AIDS Assets and Strategic Focus
In 1987 CDC began working in Côte d’Ivoire (CI) , establishing a field station in Abidjan and the Retrovirus Côte d’Ivoire (CDC Retro-CI project), to research some of the most important questions about HIV worldwide. The CDC Retro-CI program has strengthened the capacity of CI’s public health systems to provide programs for prevention (voluntary counseling and testing, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT), abstinence and be faithful, blood and injection safety), treatment [antiretroviral therapy (ART) and opportunistic infections including tuberculosis (TB)], and supportive care (palliative care, orphans, and vulnerable children).
Maximizing Unique Government-to-Government Relationships
CDC works closely with the Ministry of Health and Fight Against AIDS (MSLS) to integrate comprehensive diagnosis and care and treatment (C&T) for HIV, including the provision of ART in TB treatment centers. CDC also helped establish and strengthen a national HIV C&T coordination center within the MSLS to engage all elements of the health sector and to advance national policy and research priorities. CDC’s unique and positive relationship with the MSLS has resulted in the development of additional ties with the Ministries of Education (MEN), and of Women, Families, and Social Affairs (MEMEASS), enabling greater coordination and leverage of funds and programming across sectors.
Strengthening Health Systems
CDC supports strengthening technical leadership, advancing laboratory quality standards, developing low risk donor recruitment strategies, improving HIV and other transfusion-transmissible infection screening procedures, procuring cold chain and other equipment, in addition to rehabilitating blood collection and distribution sites damaged or destroyed in regions affected during internal conflict. At the end of fiscal year 2011, CDC helped develop over 351 C&T sites, 552 PMTCT sites (including training personnel and equipping labs), and 89 blood centers (enabling 90,303 safe units of blood to be collected in 2009). In addition to implementing early infant diagnosis and viral load testing, RetroCI has established an external quality assurance panel program which is sent to 98 serology sites and 85 hematology and biochemistry sites. The technology and responsibility for making and distributing these panels is currently being transferred to the national reference laboratory.
Through MEMEASS, CDC supports a national coordination center for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) issues, drafts and validates national policy documents on OVC service delivery, analyzes trends in OVC needs and priorities, and strengthens human and institutional capacity to implement decentralized coordination, referral and data collection systems. Through CDC efforts, the MEN has worked with MSLS and MEMEASS to incorporate age appropriate HIV/AIDS information into school curricula, to integrate sexually transmitted infection and HIV services into school clinics, and to support social workers in schools for OVC follow-up.
Thanks to its long in-country experience and committed local staff, CDC and its USAID colleagues were able to ensure the continuity of essential HIV/AIDS services during Côte d’Ivoire’s 2011 political and military crisis.