Improving Linkages between Health Facilities and Communities in Muheza, Tanzania
In the Muheza District of Tanzania, the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project applied the Community Health System Strengthening model to improve linkages between health facilities and communities in order to increase HIV testing and retention in care. Working in five communities, community teams were created from existing community groups to work with the local home-based care volunteer. Teams in each of the communities relayed information from the facility to the community through their community groups and vice-versa. Over the course of seven months, they were able to trace 39 of 44 patients who were lost to follow-up; of these, 23 went back to treatment, five had moved to a different health facility, 11 had died, and five were still unaccounted for. This case study describes the process undertaken and perspectives of the community members and health facility personnel who were involved.