During October 2017, Paediatric – Adolescent Treatment Africa (PATA) celebrates its 10th birthday since its official establishment as an NPC in 2007.
With humble beginnings as an informal knowledge-sharing hub, it drew interest from visiting clinic teams who were keen to learn from one of the first paediatric HIV treatment pilot sites in Africa, situated at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH) in Cape Town, South Africa. This inspired the birth of PATA, which convened its first PATA forum in 2005 and formally registered in 2007.
Since then, PATA forums have continued to offer a capacity-building platform and collaborative meeting space for health provider teams from across the region. PATA incubation projects have also developed out of the PATA forum foundation and methodology.
“In 10 years, PATA has grown from a facilitator into a network of health providers. These associated health facilities build connections as well as ‘Communities of Practice’ in adolescent- and child-centered HIV service delivery across the region,” says PATA’s Executive Director Luann Hatane.
During this time, PATA’s mission has expanded considerably, providing access to valuable information and insights regarding effective paediatric and adolescent HIV service delivery models. This information has the power to drive policy and programme change at national, regional and global levels. The foundation of PATA’s work, however, remains the recognition of the critical role that frontline health providers must play in advancing the paediatric and adolescent HIV response.
Anne Magege, Senior Programme Manager-Health at ELMA Philanthropies – a long-time donor and supporter of PATA – explains that PATA is a key partner in achieving the global-fast-track goal of reaching 1.6 million children with ART by 2018.
“PATA has utilised its growing capacity, reputation and resources to expand its network of multidisciplinary teams of frontline providers from 258 health facilities in 2013 to 364 across sub-Saharan Africa in 2016. PATA aims to expand and deepen this network to reach an estimated 180 000 children and adolescents on treatment by 2019,” Magege says.
The roll-out of World Health Organisation’s (WHO) treat-all ART recommendations for adolescents and children require upskilling of health providers as well as innovative service delivery models that can urgently address existing gaps in testing, linking and retaining children and adolescents to support optimal treatment, care and support. Magege says, “PATA continues to recognise the critical role that frontline health providers and South-South learning and exchange must play and is now poised to harness its 10-year track record of developing this capacity to drive change across this network.”
Magege adds that PATA is also harnessing this network to disseminate practice-based evidence and advocate for policy development and improved implementation among its network and through regional and global platforms. “PATA’s support of advocacy networks is leading to greater engagement of young people living HIV in service delivery and policy development.”
The PATA Theory of Change is testament to PATA’s evolution from a small knowledge-sharing network 10 years ago into a dynamic, multi-dimensional space for linking and learning, project implementation, dissemination of research and evidence, collaboration and advocacy, and communication – with an aim to mobilise and strengthen frontline health providers and improve access to quality HIV treatment, care and support services for children and adolescents living with HIV.
In the coming five years, Hatane would like to see PATA further strengthen and solidify its research methodology to build on evidence and develop stronger evidence-based advocacy. With a network that extends across 23 African countries, there is also an opportunity to utilise its partnerships, amplifying impact. She says, “There are always opportunities for reflection and with reflection comes a chance to expand and deepen our work.”
What would you like to see PATA achieve in the next five years? Comment with your thoughts below.