LUSAKA, Zambia – The U.S. government, through the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP), supported the launch of a virtual community of practice platform in partnership with the Zambian Defence Force (ZDF) on March 17. This low-cost, high-impact intervention, funded through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), builds on the extraordinarily successful Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) brought to Zambia by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and implemented under the Zambian Ministry of Health. With U.S. government support, the Ministry of Health operates over 300 ECHO facilities across Zambia. This is the first such project developed specifically to meet the needs of the Zambian military and surrounding communities.
Project ECHO is a “telementoring” project that uses technology to leverage scarce resources to increase workforce capacity to provide best practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. The ECHO model was developed by the University of New Mexico in the United States, and significantly improves both capacity and access to specialty care for rural and underserved populations.
By leveraging the ECHO model, the ZDF will have the ability to connect remote military clinical sites with experts from Maina Soko Military Hospital in Lusaka and other specialty centers. Additionally, it will help establish a community of learning using a collaborative model of medical education and care management that will empower clinicians throughout Zambia to provide better care to more people where they live. It will also allow access to the larger ECHO network in Zambia and throughout southern Africa that has active sessions on HIV, TB, cervical cancer, COVID-19, and other priority health concerns.
With the ZDF ECHO launch, the Zambian military will be better equipped to support its service members, their families, and the roughly 400,000 civilians living within the military health clinics’ catchment areas. In addition to the ZDF ECHO program, PEPFAR partners with the government of Zambia to achieve HIV epidemic control through a broad range of activities. In 2021, PEPFAR invested over $400 million in Zambia’s HIV response. Learn more about PEPFAR in Zambia here.