The Military Health Services Director Lieutenant General Magongo, representing the Commander General of the UEDF, officiates the Gala Award Dinner during the URC-DoD Project’s retreat and planning meeting. Photo credit: URC

In Eswatini, URC recently hosted a two-day joint planning retreat for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP)’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)-funded project in Eswatini. The project, implemented by URC, coordinated the joint retreat for 38 URC-DoD Project staff and 45 Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) officers to:

  • Reflect on lessons learned during the previous year of implementation,
  • Recognize exemplary work and achievements,
  • Jointly plan for the upcoming year, and
  • Bolster sustainability strategies to ensure gains are maintained in Eswatini’s achievement of the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals.

Through the URC-DoD Project, URC contributes to the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini efforts to reduce the number of new HIV, TB, and sexually transmitted infections among members of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF), their families, and the civilian communities served by the UEDF health services.

The project works closely with military health care workers and military health leadership to ensure quality integrated HIV/AIDS services and military stewardship of the UEDF HIV/AIDS program.

Interactive Retreat Drives Team Unity

The first day of the retreat focused on the previous year performance review, while the second day was dedicated to presentations and participatory discussions about services at each of the 10 project-supported clinics. Facility teams developed action plans for the coming year to address their performance gaps for continuous quality improvement.

The retreat also provided the opportunity for team building sessions and friendly competition. The teams played tug of war, volleyball, and competed in sprinting. One UEDF team member mentioned “we need to do more of these games as they unify us as a team.”

DoD Eswatini URC Project and Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force play tug of war during a joint planning retreat. Photo credit: URC

Recognition Event

The retreat included the formal Gala Award Dinner attended by military and PEPFAR DoD leadership with awards recognizing individual UEDF staff contributions such as:

  • The Pinnacle Performer of the Year Award
  • The Silent Soldier Award
  • The Brilliant Beginner Award
  • The Customer Whisperer Award
  • The Best Logistics Officer Award
  • The Most Responsive Team Member Award

The Eswatini UEDF and US DoD leadership represented by Dr. Tyrone D. Lapidos from the U.S. DoD gave remarks and presented the awards. He encouraged URC and UEDF staff to continue to deliver quality services and prioritize sustainability of systems developed over the project period.

The Military Health Services (MHS) Director Lieutenant General Magongo encouraged the teams to continue to excel, applauding the great partnership with URC through the PEPFAR-funded DoD Project. She highlighted achievements including infrastructure improvements, as well as human resource and technical support to improve standards of care. She pointed out that the military clinics have been recognized by the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini for offering superior health services to both military and civilian populations, all thanks to the partnership with DoD through URC.

Retreat Secures Local Leadership of Targeted Work Plan  

The retreat enabled planning and team building by bringing project and UEDF leadership and staff together in a more relaxed environment. As a result, they returned to their workplaces prepared to implement the jointly developed strategies and action plans to maintain Eswatini’s progress in achieving the UNAIDS 95-95-95 goals.

The retreat’s engagement process successfully facilitated participants’ commitment to a common vision to achieve project objectives and meet the needs of health service beneficiaries.