The JCRC attracted and was awarded the with PEPFAR/USAID Local Partner Health Services – Kigezi and Lango activity aims to build on the previous efforts of RHITES-N,Lango and South West aimed at the increase in utilization of health services, by strengthening systems, improving quality of services, increasing availability of, access to and demand for quality services and supporting the health sector to sustain higher utilization rates in 15 districts of Lira, including 9 districts in Lira among others -Apac, Oyam, Kole, Kwania, Alebtong, Otuke, Dokolo, and Amolatar in Lango sub-region and 6 districts in South West in the districts of Kabale, Rukiga, Rubanda, Kisoro, Kanungu and Rukungiri, The program is expected to achieve the below objectives;
Objective 1: Quality facility-based HIV and TB prevention services provided at scale
Objective 2: Quality, targeted high yield, facility and community-based HIV testing and counseling services provided at scale
Objective 3: All diagnosed people living with HIV and TB are promptly initiated on treatment
Objective 4: All diagnosed people living with HIV and TB on treatment within the Kigezi subregion of SW Uganda achieve viral suppression
Objective 5: Target districts have the institutional capacity to sustain epidemic control and maintain the response
The HIV testing as the main entry point for HIV prevention, care, and treatment services resulted into notable achievement. A total of 4,337 out of the targeted 5,425 persons achieving 79.94% of the year 2020 HST target. During the year, a total of 536 HIV positive individuals out of the target 747 which is 71.76% of the annual target were identified. This was achieved through implementation of innovative HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) strategies, including Assisted Partner Notification (APN) Index testing, and targeted community outreaches, and moonlight clinics – reaching for key and priority populations (female sex workers, MSM, discordant couples, transgender people, fisher folk, prisoners, people who inject drugs) at night in HIV hotspots of Kampala and Wakiso district
The JCRC team is currently targeting the 95-95-95 strategy by intensifying HTC modalities including the use of self-test kits, continuous adherence counselling and active follow up of patients with unsuppressed viral load. In 2020, JCRC successfully rolled out HIV Self-Test Kits at the facility and community outreaches. The services have been rolled out at the different points and people are willingly taking up the service. This has resulted in increased access to HIV testing, especially for Key and Priority Populations.
A total of 32 well trained and experienced Community Liaison Volunteers (HIV expert clients) were employed to support treatment adherence at facility and community level among other tasks.
The College of American Pathology (CAP) accredited Laboratory at JCRC has maintained the certification for the third successful year, thus contributing to absolute quality research and treatment outcomes through wide range of services for JCRC and nationwide.
JCRC continue to make available the apheresis unit that has been used to conduct a total of 06 Red blood exchanges and 06 Plasma Exchange Procedures in sickle cell diseases patients. It has also been able to further provide diversity in research and treatment portfolio to both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
The JCRC established launched a fully specialized building to house the TB clinic with clinic days on every Tuesday and Thursdays of every week. This has continued to be a one-stop center for HIV-TB co-infected patients and where Defeat TB project is managed in collaboration with the office of Wakiso District TB and Leprosy supervisor (DTLS). This arrangement eased reporting into the District Health Management Information System (DHMIS) among other outcomes. This has been possible mainly through the Defeat TB project.
The JCRC diagnose 88 patients with TB during 72 patients were co-infected with HIV. Of those who were HIV co-infected 96.49% were known to have HIV on entry, while 3.51% were newly diagnosed with HIV. Of the TB active patients, 99.57% did not have the signs and symptoms of TB.
The Radiology section – The new X Ray Unit was licensed by the Atomic energy. Officials from the Atomic Energy Council Inspected the new X-ray machine and issued a license to authorize use of the equipment for service provision. This will continue to support the provision of quality services in Care treatment
Research in COVID-19:
Together with its partners the Centre has developed new research ideas and opportunities for COVID testing. A simple and Cost effective PCR Assays for SARS-CoV-2 Diagnostics (RARA) was launched. The test is now in the process of being validated and once approved, this will be key in the fight against COVID-19 as it will be cheaper to do mass testing of populations to quickly identify those infected for appropriate management and limit the spread of the infection.
An aphaeresis machine which is now lined up for the collection of the convalescent plasma from individuals who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection. This plasma is to be used in management of persons with severe COVID-19 disease who are likely to benefit from this intervention. Currently, JCRC is the only institution in the country with an aphaeresis machine
The First Ever Virtual Field School between Canada and Uganda was established and rolled out. JCRC has been hosting students pursuing Masters in Management of Applied Sciences (MMASc) in Global Health Systems (GHS) program at Western for a field school and practicum. However due to the COVID 19 pandemic Western students were not able to come to Uganda the year 2020 hence the launch of virtual filed schooling.
The12th annual HIV update meeting was held from the 16th November to 20th November 2020 (first time ever in the history of JCRC). The Virtual HIV update meeting was organized in collaboration with the JCRC partners (both local and international) This brought together an assembly of scientists, clinicians, local government leaders, trainees at various stages, central government officials, academia, policy makers, and general public, to discuss and come up with new ways of managing the evolving challenges in HIV care, treatment and research..
The JCRC Community Advisory Board (JCRC-CAB) coordinated and hosted the 15th Annual Cross -CAB Network Forum from 10th to 11th November 2020. The CROSS- CAB is a local CAB Network which brings together eight CABs from key Biomedical Research Institutions in Uganda with JCRC-CAB inclusive. The two-day activity was held virtually due to COVID 19 restrictions. The theme for the Forum was: “ENGAGINGING CAB IN BIOMEDICAL RESERCH DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC” and the topics covered focused mainly on challenges of COVID19 and role of Local CABS. Although community engagement activities were hampered by COVID19 lockdown, members of Local CABS used remote methods such as phone calls and whatsup to reach out their communities