Data holds immense power. It is the cornerstone of our accountability, illuminates our path, informs our decisions and shapes the trajectory of programs and strategies. In the context of HIV and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) service delivery in Tanzania, data use is pivotal in accelerating the achievement of outcomes. Through data, we can monitor progress, identify gaps and alter strategies to fast-track the achievement of targets and results. Over the years, data summits have become vibrant platforms where knowledge is shared, partnerships strengthened and new strategies forged to enhance integrated and comprehensive services for OVC and their caregivers.
Twice per year, the ACHIEVE project in Tanzania hosts Data Summits, most recently in March 2023. Government representatives, clinical implementing partners (IPs), and ACHIEVE IPs joined this year’s summits, forming an assembly of more than 400 participants. The summits were held in seven locations, which brought together participants from all 78 councils across 15 regions implementing the ACHIEVE project. During the summits, participants assessed ACHIEVE’s progress toward achieving targets and the collaboration between clinical IPs, local government authorities (LGAs) and OVC programs in delivering services along the pediatric HIV- and HIV-exposed infants (HEI) cascade. It was also an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments and identify barriers.
"Through these collaborative endeavors, we can collectively address challenges and ensure that children living with HIV get comprehensive services."
"I am pleased to witness the active engagement of our development partners in sharing plans toward closing the HIV pediatric treatment gap," remarked Dr. Issessanda Kaniki, Regional Medical Officer for the Kagera Region during the summit's opening. “These Data Summits provide us with a valuable opportunity to gain insights and knowledge on effective strategies for accelerating coordination efforts. Through these collaborative endeavors, we can collectively address challenges and ensure that children living with HIV get comprehensive services."
The commitment to the global 95-95-95 targets echoed throughout the summits as clinical partners, IPs and government counterparts joined forces to strengthen the cascade of care. With determination in their voices, they discussed case identification, linkage to care, support for retention and all vital components in achieving viral suppression among individuals living with HIV.
“Through the seamless collaboration between clinical and community-based services, we have witnessed great improvements in reaching 95-95-95 outcomes,” said Aloyce Odero, Senior Officer for Maternal and Child Health at the CDC-funded Afya Kwanza project. “Children who previously struggled with high viral loads for extended periods [of time] are now achieving viral suppression. By identifying those with high viral loads, facilitating multi-month dispensing of medication, and focusing on the wellbeing of children and adolescents living with HIV, we can forge a path toward an HIV-free generation."
Throughout the summits, the importance of data quality and effective service provision emerged as focal points of discussion. Participants delved into data sharing, feedback mechanisms and streamlined reporting processes. Their collective goal was to enhance data quality, ensuring it is a powerful tool for decision-making and improving the lives of children living with HIV.
"By identifying those with high viral loads, facilitating multi-month dispensing of medication, and focusing on the wellbeing of children and adolescents living with HIV, we can forge a path toward an HIV-free generation."
Overall, the summits marked a milestone in fostering collaboration, celebrating achievements, addressing challenges in ACHIEVE’s fight against HIV/AIDS and improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children in Tanzania. "I cannot overstate the significance of partnerships in promoting data-driven decision-making,” said John Charles, Director for Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning for ACHIEVE in Tanzania. “Data summits have given us a unique platform to foster stakeholders’ collaboration and knowledge sharing. By working together, we can harness the power of data to inform strategic interventions and ensure our programs are grounded in evidence-based practices.” Charles added that, “These partnerships enable us to unlock new insights, identify challenges and collectively shape the trajectory of our efforts toward achieving optimal outcomes for those we serve."