TASO celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 2012. The theme of the Silver Jubilee commemoration is “Celebrating 25 years of positive living: the foundation of HIV prevention, care and support”. Over the years, TASO has had five strategic planning cycles that have yielded unparalleled results in preventing HIV infection, restoring hope and improving the quality of life of persons, families and communities affected by HIV and AIDS. The organization is transitioning into a new 5 year strategic planning cycle, 2013-2017 and is committed to scaling new heights in the HIV and AIDS response.
Highlights of TASO Achievements
The great service of TASO over the years is anchored to the founding Philosophy, Mission, Vision, Values and the broad objectives of the organization, that have remained relevant to the changing dynamics of HIV and AIDS. Achievements recorded by TASO include;
Fight against Stigma and Discrimination
TASO spearheaded the drive to eliminate stigma and discrimination directed towards individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS. From the onset, TASO recognized that reduction of stigma and discrimination are critical in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Therefore, TASO was the first initiator of practices that promoted positive attitudes and openness about AIDS in Uganda. Among these practices are the TASO hug, acceptance of PLHIV, sharing of meals, provision of correct and relevant information and demonstrating best practices of care and support to family members and care givers of People Living with HIV (PLHIV).
Living Positively with HIV
TASO initiated and popularized the Philosophy of Living Positively with HIV. This has been adopted by other partners worldwide as a guiding principle in the HIV and AIDS response. TASO has chosen to leave this great innovation in the public domain other than patenting, given its great values
Model for Care of PLHIV
From as early as 1987, TASO assumed the position of a centre of reference for HIV care and support best practices in Uganda and the region. It is from this background that TASO has shared her experiences in the HIV response with individuals, institutions and agencies both in the private and public sector. TASO purposefully participates in various learning and sharing events including workshops and conferences at national, regional and international level.
TASO pioneered the building of competencies for HIV and AIDS service provision and in creating AIDS awareness among the general population. For the period of her existence, TASO has contributed significantly to strengthening of the national public and community health care systems in Uganda and other Sub Saharan African countries. TASO has trained, mentored, coached and provided technical support to over 30,000 health service providers in Uganda and the neighbouring countries.
TASO has directly provided capacity building to 50 Civil Society Organisations and Institutions in Uganda through; sub- granting, organizational development, training, mentoring and coaching, infrastructure development and provision of essential equipment and software packages. These CSO,s and Institutions were supported under the TASO regionalization strategy that aimed to deliver situation specific interventions at all the 4 regions of Uganda. TASO has phased out support to 37 of these CSOs/ institutions, but maintains a collaborative relationship with them. Support to 13 CSOs/institutions is still ongoing. (List of Supported CSOs/Institutions)
HIV Programming Models
The organisation has contributed to the national and international HIV and AIDS response programming and modeling by developing and promoting good practice models, research, advocacy and involvement in various working groups and technical committees at national and international level.
Set up of AIDS Service Organisations
TASO has contributed to the establishment of other HIV and AIDS service organizations and these include AIDS Information Centre, Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organization, Positive Men’s Union, National Community for Women Living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda and THETA among others.
Community based HIV Programming Model
The TASO Community Initiatives Programme that started in 1992, has mobilised over 105 communities to create a conducive environment for HIV prevention and care and support for people living with HIV. This is aimed at contributing to the sustainability of the national HIV and AIDS response. TASO mobilized and trained over 5,000 volunteers to offer community education on HIV prevention, care and support services. These are part of the Village Health Teams offering holistic services to their communities.
TASO spearheaded the principle of Greater/Meaningful Involvement of People Living with HIV (GIPA/MIPA) in the response. From the onset of TASO, the focus was on the person living with HIV who was accepted as part of the solution to HIV and AIDS and not a problem. An example of this is the mobilization of PLHIV to form drama groups at the service centres to carry out public sensitisation on HIV prevention, care and support. TASO remains at the forefront of advocating for equal rights, shared responsibilities and equal opportunities for people living with HIV.
Over 1500 ART expert clients (Community AIDS Support Agents - CASA), have been trained and facilitated to counsel their peers on the importance of ART adherence and provide support to them in other aspects of positive living within their communities
Drama Group constituted by PLHIV conducting public sensitisation using music dance and drama
Centres of excellence in HIV Prevention, care and Social Support
TASO has an established infrastructure network of 11 service centres, 4 regional offices, 1 training centre of excellence and 1 capacity building project, covering all the 4 regions and major towns of Uganda; Entebbe, Gulu Jinja, Kampala, Masaka, Masindi, Mbale, Mbarara, Moroto, Rukungiri, Soroti and Tororo. These service units are well equipped to provide quality services to the clientele. The TASO infrastructure network of building complexes, most of which are located in the proximity of the public hospitals complement the national health infrastructure.
Health Systems Strengthening
TASO operates 22 outreach clinic sites in Public Health Facilities(PHF) where clients receive a comprehensive package of care and support services. The outreach sites were 54 prior to implementation of a Rationalization Strategy in 2011 that was aimed at improving efficiency in service delivery among HIV and AIDS implementing partners in the country. A Health Systems Strengthening approach is used where counterparts at PHF are mentored and provided with other support towards strengthening HIV programming and service delivery
Orphans and other Vulnerable Children (OVC) Support Programming
Since inception, TASO has cared for a cumulative number of over 300,000 individuals and has reached out to about 1,000,000 of their household members with services such as HIV counseling and testing, AIDS awareness, comprehensive package for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC). These numbers do not include the members of the general public who have been reached through public sensitization and education and mobilized to access, take part and promote HIV prevention, care and support services.
TASO has supported over 30,000 Orphans and Vulnerable Children with therapeutic feeding, food and nutrition security interventions, scholastic materials, formal and apprenticeship training, seed grants, farm inputs, health, sanitation and hygiene care, psychosocial and child protection support.
Medical and Psychosocial Care and Support
On annual basis, TASO cares for a clientele of 100,000 individuals, besides their family members numbering over 300,000, who also receive auxiliary services from TASO. Of the active clients, 65 % are females, 35% are males, and children below the age of 18 years constitute 8% of the total number of the clientele. Most of the clients, about 90% are from the poor rural areas of Uganda.
Currently, TASO is providing ARVs to over 50,000 clients across the 11 service centres in the Country. On average, 75 % of clients receive their ARVs through Community Drug Distribution Points (CDDPs) and the Community Client Led ART (CCLAD) arm and 25 % through the facility based arm. The community arm is a best practice for strengthening community engagement, promoting adherence and reducing the cost burden to the poor clients.
Care services for children at a TASO Centre
With support from friends and well-wishers, TASO constructed a multi million shillings building christened “House of Hope” in the heart of Kampala. The facility is rented out as one of the sustainability strategies for TASO to continue offering services to clients under her care. More efforts in sustainability programming are underway and support is continually sought to achieve this goal.
Global Fund Principle Recipient
TASO has won the confidence of the country and the world community to undertake a huge responsibility of managing Global Fund Grants as the Second Principle Recipient for Non Public Sector.
TASO is an example of a successful indigenous civil society response to HIV and AIDS epidemic. The TASO story illustrates the complementary role of civil society actors in supporting Government to respond to the development challenges and its commitments to the citizens and the international community.
Various partners have supported TASO to deliver quality services to all the people who knocked at TASO doors seeking care and support. These partners support TASO financially, technically and through advocacy and publicity of the HIV and AIDS response.
TASO is forever indebted to all its development partners who include among others;
Actionaid Uganda, Government of Uganda, ACDI/VOCA, CDC, Airtel (Celtel) Uganda, Civil Society Fund, DANIDA, DFID, Global Fund, German Development Agency – GED, Heifer Project, Irish Aid, Japanese International Development Agency – JICA, PEPFAR, Pfizer Foundation, RATN, Rockefeller Foundation, Send a Cow, SIDA, The World of Hope Foundation, Trickle up, University of Washington, UPHOLD, USAID, WFP, TASO friends and subscriber members, local and international volunteers among many others.