Medication Saved Wambi, He Wants it to Save Others

Alex Wambi is a 46-year-old living in Nansana-Ganda. He is a father of 7 and works in a carpentry shop in Bwaise. He collaborates with Kawaala Health Centre III under the Infectious Diseases Institute to deliver HIV treatment to several patients in the areas around Kawaala, Nansana urban and remote villages. With supervision and guidance from the health workers at the health centre, Alex delivers the medication using his motorcycle.

Inspiration to assist
When Alex was 21 years old, he was tested for HIV and was informed that he was HIV positive. At the time, he had a family to take care of including a 2-months old baby.

“If it wasn’t for this medication, I would not be alive today. I had a family to take care of and the best option was to start treatment immediately and ensure consistency. Many years later, I am healthy and alive”, Alex says.

Due to his commitment towards treatment, he was trusted by patients to help deliver their medication.

“I remember what it was like when I was first diagnosed. It was difficult. I think of many people out there; some are suffering from the effects of stigma and others cannot reach these health centres for medication due to high transport costs. I decided to work with the health centre to deliver medication to these people.”

Relationship with IDI and KCCA
In 2007, Alex was enrolled in HIV care at Kawaala H C III; an IDI-supported Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) health centre. Due to his commitment and consistency in receiving treatment, he developed a good relationship with the health workers and offered to share reading material about HIV testing and treatment to the people in his community. Through this, many patients approached him and he used this as an opportunity to advise many to go for HIV testing and treatment.

The COVID19 effect
Alex’s role proved to be a Godsend during the lockdown as many patients (including pregnant HIV+ breastfeeding mothers, children, adolescents, and the elderly) in the communities he went to were not able to reach the health centres due to the transport costs and restrictions. With assistance from the clinic management, he was able to receive a sticker, infection prevention, and control supplies, transport, and tools to aid his safe movement to different patients.

Experience supporting people with HIV
Several people living with HIV suffer from stigma from both family and community members. For this reason, many of them stay in their homes without treatment. COVID 19 restrictions worsened this situation. In addition to the deliveries, Alex talks to the patients about the importance of adhering to treatment in order to protect their loved ones. He encourages them to be consistent with treatment and works to boost their confidence in fighting against stigma from family and community members. Over the four-month intense lockdown period, Alex was able to successfully support antiretroviral therapy refills for over 80 PLHIV who were stranded in communities as far as Entebbe road and Namilyango.

By Tracy Ahumuza & By Nakitandwe Rebecca Melisa