Developing Strategies in Central America and Panama Region to Strengthen the Response to the HIV Epidemic
Overview and Objectives
The project’s primary objective was to strengthen HIV and TB surveillance and control in the Central American region. URC provided technical support to Ministries of Health to improve TB case management; strengthen lab capacity in TB and HIV; improve HIV counseling and testing, particularly provider-initiated testing and counseling; and strengthen the use of data for decision making by adapting and improving appropriate information systems. The project worked at the national level in all six countries to evaluate and strengthen lab capacity for testing for sexually transmitted infection (STIs), including specimen handling and processing, lab safety, biomedical waste disposal, preventative maintenance of equipment, and documentation. In collaboration with COMISA, URC also supported the establishment of a regional database for HIV and TB over the life of the project.
Project objectives were:
- Provided technical support to national TB programs (NTPs) to strengthen TB and TB/HIV case management, including case detection, diagnosis, provider-initiated testing and counseling (PITC), and patient care and treatment
- Trained lab managers and staff in standard operating procedures for labs, TB and HIV testing, specimen handling and processing, lab safety, biomedical waste disposal, preventative maintenance of equipment, documentation, and data collection and reporting
- Designed and supported the development and deployment of an electronic system for registering and reporting TB data
- Trained health care providers in TB case management and TB/HIV surveillance
- Assessed national lab capacity in testing for STIs, HIV, and TB and support the acquisition of equipment and training
- Evaluated the possibility of integrating national information systems into a regional system
This project was also known as the “Strengthening the Response to TB, HIV, and STIs in Central America and Panama Region” project.
- In Nicaragua and Guatemala, the project conducted a diagnostic needs assessment, the platform for program interventions and training. It also conducted needs assessments on the capacities of national labs to perform basic STI diagnosis and reviewed all their standard operating procedures, protocols, and norms.
- URC facilitated a best practices visit to El Salvador for the NTP directors. El Salvador’s NTP is considered a regional example of a well-managed and successful TB program. The visit supported regional knowledge sharing and provided an opportunity to exchange best practices, lessons learned, and innovative approaches to TB case management. During the visit, countries developed an improvement plan for their respective TB programs (URC will support these programs/plans with continued technical assistance and training).
- The project trained 61 service providers on TB case management and PICT in Guatemala (follow up and refresher training are planned).
- The project also provided technical assistance to Ministries of Health on TB/HIV and HIV, modes of transmission models, monitoring and evaluation, communications technology, and other technical areas.