DREAMS (DETERMINED RESILIENT EMPOWERED AIDS-FREE MENTORED AND SAFE) Project is a prevention intervention that is currently implemented in 10 districts in the country. The ten districts are; Central One: Gomba, Sembabule, Bukomansimbi & Rakai Central Two: Mukono, Mubende Mityana and Mid Northern: Lira, Gulu & Oyam. In Year III, the project hopes to expand to 6-8 districts to each block and add more stages to the project with main aim on behavior change to achieve prevention in the communities.
DREAMS focuses on young girls and adolescents under thirty years of age while exploring ways of keeping them negative and empowered. This project is being implemented by USAID and CDC IPs with technical support from the Makerere University School of Public Health Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support (METS) Program. The target is to reduce the AIDS prevalence by 40% in the target districts. The project has 220 DREAMS Ambassadors who help with identification, service delivery follow up and QI; they are the informed reminder for the implementers.
The program’s unique district selection offers opportunity to compare and learn lessons in various regions. It is also a community led service delivery and quality assurance through community Quality Improvement teams to ensure that the services get to the recipients at the lowest level. The success of the program has been built on the foundation of providing economic empowerment projects that have helped with retention, ecological model which is inclusion of the girls’ families and partners to create ownership, using already existing programs to spread the DREAMS message like the School HIV Prevention program under the school family health initiative. The layering of services has also proved a successful implementation; the success of layering is dependent on strategic information regarding the interventions. At regional level, DREAMS project has succeeded in integrating already existing programs and information especially the Violence Against Children Services (VACS) data. The program has not been without some challenges, these include; delayed PrEP roll out, engaging girls outside schools and identifying and engaging male partners of selected sub categories in AGYW engaged in Transactional Sex.
Monitoring of the project is considered vital to gauge the viability of the project and a DHIS2 web based system known as the Uganda DREAMS Tracking System (UDTS) has been created by METS to help track the girl from her point of entry. The system will also help to determine the unit cost and this will advise the longevity and relevance of the project.
Dr. Allan Muruuta the AIDS Control Program Coordinator represented the Ministry of Health and noted that the achievements in the one year as well as best practices and indicators for vulnerable groups should be shared with districts that have not been beneficiaries by this noble intervention. He urged the implementers to give their informed opinions and findings to the ministry as it is in the process of putting together a Communicable Disease Policy.
He further pledged his support to the much-needed project.
Abel Muzoora from John Snow Inc discussed the Innovation Challenge (DREAMS-IC) to infuse innovations and new thinking to ensure achievement of the DREAMS core. This is working through various projects to ensure innovation on the DREMS project. The projects being incorporated include Wizarts Foundation, Brick by Brick Project, aidsfonds
The meeting that was held on 8th February 2017 at the Kampala Serena Hotel was attended by various Implementing Partners, MoH officials, District Health Teams representative, USAID and CDC representatives