Emergency assistance provided by LINKAGES Indonesia during Covid-19 ensures continuity of HIV and tuberculosis treatment for priority populations

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Emergency assistance provided by LINKAGES Indonesia during Covid-19 ensures continuity of HIV and tuberculosis treatment for priority populations

Community-based support staff member from Yayasan Inter Medika explains Jak-Support fund to a client. Community-based support staff member from Yayasan Inter Medika explains Jak-Support fund to a client. (Photo: Ria Ningsih/Pact)

This story originally appeared on the LINKAGES blog and has been cross-posted here with permission. It was written by Pact's Ria Ningsih with LINKAGES Indonesia, Lucyan Umboh with LINKAGES Indonesia and Stevie Daniels with FHI 360.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many key population members, people living with HIV, and tuberculosis (TB) patients have avoided health services. For some, the reason is lack of income due to losing their jobs. 

One example is Hilma Herdiana, a 22-year-old client of Yayasan Inter Medika (YIM) recently diagnosed as HIV positive. His need for treatment is pressing; however, due to losing his job during Covid-19 he is unable to pay for health care.

But thanks to the Jak-Support recovery and resilience emergency fund introduced in July in Jakarta by the USAID- and PEPFAR-supported Linkages across the Continuum of HIV Services for Key Populations Affected by HIV (LINKAGES) project, he has received the tests and treatment needed.

When Herdiana explained his financial situation, the community-based support (CBS) officer at YIM told him about Jak-Support and how it could cover the cost of his needed health services. “He helped me fill out the online application form and assisted with the administration process at the Puskesmas,” he said. “Thank you for Jak-Support. The program has helped me get the laboratory tests and drugs I need without worrying about the cost.”

Herdiana is one of more than 100 individuals who have been helped so far. The fund was introduced to 11 civil society organizations (CSOs)—six of which are LINKAGES implementing partners—and 60 health care facilities. The fund provides cash transfers to cover transportation costs to health services up to 150,000 Indonesia rupiah (IDR) (about US$10), and/or for medical administration and treatment (including medication) costs to a maximum of 300,000 IDR (about US$20).

Target groups for Jak-Support are key population members and their spouses, people (including children) living with HIV (PLHIV), spouses of PLHIV, and TB clients. Eligibility is based on having insufficient resources or loss of income AND having not received direct support from the government in the past month. The fund is designated for HIV, TB, or other laboratory tests; medical consultation or treatment for HIV or TB; initiation or refill for antiretroviral therapy (ART) or TB drugs; and treatment for opportunistic infections.

Of 650 eligible clients in the city, 235 applications have been received. Of these, 115 have currently been approved. Individuals may submit an online application directly or can be supported by CSO staff to submit the request. Applications are reviewed and approved twice a week. Once an application is approved, CSOs disburse funds to a client who can avail health services at any facility in Jakarta.

LINKAGES plans to continue the fund up to November 2020 and expects to support 80 percent of the 650 eligible clients who submit an online request.

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