TASO Gulu

Background

Established in 2004, TASO Gulu is one of the eleven TASO Service Centers spread across the country. It is located in Gulu in Northern Uganda, 365 kilometers from the capital city, Kampala. Gulu is a district bordered by Oyam, Amuru, Nwoya, Pader and Kitgum Districts. This part of the country is emerging from a 20- year old insurgency from a civil war, characterized by brutal killings, displacement, and breakdown of social and cultural networks. The populations served by the centre are thus victims of war, terror and trauma due to the prolonged insurgency in this part of the country.

The centre was started to respond to the unique needs of this population who were largely predisposed to HIV infection and its impact at levels well above the national averages, upon the invitation of the local leadership. At the height of insurgency, most of the population was living in Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) Camps, with squalid and dehumanizing conditions of life. The centre had to operate in the challenging camp setting for the population to access the much needed HIV prevention, care and support services.

At the start of its services the Centre operated in a small building within Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and served few clients. Within a very short period of time, the demand for TASO services increased tremendously and the centre registered a very big number of clients and space became a limiting factor in the quality of service delivery. With funding from SIDA, PEPFAR, MOH and USAID, a new premise was constructed along Matthew Lukwiya road, within Gulu Regional Referral Hospital and is where the centre currently serves over 8,000 People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and about 25,000 members of their families including Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC). 

With the return of peace in the region, most people have gone back to their homes and villages and are engaging in developmental activities. TASO Gulu has embarked on intensive follow up of clients with more remapping and home visits, through Community Drug Distribution Points (CDDP), Outreaches, Home Based HIV Counseling and Testing and intensive HIV/AIDS community education and sensitization with an aim to contributing to the HIV prevention strategy. 

Services offered at TASO Gulu

The center provides a range of services including;

  • HIV prevention services which include
    • Free HIV Testing and counseling
    • Promoting safer sexual behaviors through sensitizations, drama shows, behavioral change campaigns, Radio talk shows and mass media sensitizations.
    • Promoting correct and consistent use of condoms
    • Providing Post Exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for accidental exposures to HIV infection
    • Providing PMTCT services (option B+) to HIV positive mothers
    • Providing free Safe Male Circumcision for all males above 12 years
  • Care and treatment services which include
    • Increasing access to ARV drugs through enrolling all eligible HIV positive clients on ART
    • Treatment of any opportunistic infections as a result of HIV infection and disease
    • Intensively screening , identifying TB cases and treating them immediately
    • Provision of Cervical cancer screening service and treating all infected
    • Provision of modern Family Planning devices to prevent unwanted pregnancies
    • Providing specialized peadiatric and adolescent HIV care and treatment
  • Psychosocial and spiritual services
    • Counseling PLHIV to cope with the HIV positive diagnosis (not living in denial)
    • Supporting PLHIV to disclose their sero status to spouse, children and other key people for continued social support
    • Equipping PLHIV with facts and knowledge on how to prevent re-infection and spreading HIV virus to others (protection)
    • Equipping PLHIV with knowledge on how to live positively with the virus and remain productive in the community
    • Encouraging PLHIV to join peer support groups for continued support and experience sharing
  • Social support and Protection services which include
    • Providing Psychosocial support to family members and caretakers to strengthen community support to PLHIV
    • Providing education support to Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC)
    • Providing vocational and apprenticeship support to out of school youths
    • Training clients into sustainable livelihood initiatives especially food security
    • Equipping clients with income generating and entrepreneur skills
    • Linking clients to government programs like NAADS, SACCO, Youth funds, etc.
    • Sensitizing clients about social and child protection and linkage to legal aid
  • Advocacy and partnership
    • Advocating for PLHIV to access services that will improve their health, spiritual, social and economic wellbeing in the society
    • Advocating for non-discriminatory practices in communities to prevent stigma, discrimination and gender inequalities
    • Raising awareness and promoting rights of PLHIV and families affected by HIV infection and disease
    • Mobilizing partners and local persons to rally behind the fight against HIV (not fighting people with HIV)
    • Locally mobilize resources to facilitate TASO Services and reaching the vulnerable
    • Creating a broader TASO membership base and visibility of TASO services especially to hard to reach communities.
  • Health System strengthening
    • Supporting public Health units to start HIV Clinics (where they don’t exist)
    • Supporting public Health units to strengthen HIV care
    • Supporting public health units in supply chain management to avoid stock outs
    • Supporting public health units to get accredited for ART
    • Supporting public health units to build human capacity for Health through training and mentorship
    • Supporting public health unit in accurate, consistent and timely reporting

Center Clinic Schedules 

  • Monday and Tuesday – scheduled for Home care and Home visits especially for bedridden and non-adhering clients in community, TB follow ups, and drug refills
  • Wednesday and Friday – reserved for General Clinic at the facility, HIV Counseling and testing, Psychosocial support and enrolling new clients into care
  • Thursday – Reserved for Family clinic (pregnant mothers, babies, husbands ) and adolescents

  * In all clinics we carryout laboratory investigations for most conditions and Viral Load and CD4 monitoring for clients on ARVs. Services and drugs are free (with support from CDC) though at every visit each client pays a user fee of 2000 UGX

Staffing

The centre is currently run by a vibrant and energetic workforce of full time staff, volunteers and part timers, who are qualified in various fields as follows; 

 Department

Full time staff

Part time

Volunteers

Medical

16

2

4

Psychosocial

15

8

2

Monitoring & Evaluation

3

1

2

Advocacy & HR

2

0

0

Finance

2

0

0

Administration

4

0

4

Total

32

11

12

The medical staff comprise of doctors, clinical Officers, nurses, Laboratory Technicians, Pharmacy Technicians and Dispensers. The counselors are social workers trained in HIV counseling and ART management.          

TASO Subscriber Membership drive

TASO Gulu has a cumulative total of over 1000 subscriber members. The numbers is steadily growing as information about TASO membership continues to be given out to the people. We also have a good response from the general public who are not necessarily TASO clients which is a sign of acceptance and appreciation of the efforts to fight against HIV/AIDS. We are calling up on all persons to come up and make contributions to respond to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS by joining in the membership in the TASO family.  

What makes TASO Gulu a Unique centers

Centre operates in a post-conflict area were there has been war and civil strife for the last 20 years. It also operates in an area were people are moving from one place to the other especially those repatriating back to homes from their places of refuge now that peace is being realized. The location of the centre in a place linking southern Sudan to Uganda has attracts business people, urbanization and high population rates, and this means that people being served may not readily be available on the stated appointment dates because of the cross boarder movements. The centre operates in a place were there are very many NGO both national and international, carrying out various interventions and rehabilitation. There is still some number of people living in camps or trading centers and so the centre delivers services to most people in that setting.

Center specific challenges

  1. Difficulty in tracing some clients who were enrolled while in camps but have  now gone back to their villages because there is peace in the region.
  2. There is still high risk of infection especially in the camp settings because of congestion and disparity in finding best survival strategy.
  3. The war has broken down efforts to engage in productive agriculture. There is now a risk of starvation as reported especially among clients on ART and this is likely to affect the adherence levels.

Contact:

 

Mr. Bennet Kizito J

Centre Manager, TASO Gulu

Gulu Regional Hospital
P.O. Box 347, Gulu

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +256-471-32743
Cell-Phone: +256- 752 774 142

Fax: +256 471 432 599