PALS– Bridging Access to Care

The PLHIV-ART Linkage System (PALS) is a web based, real time, case-based information system for People Living with HIV. It enables information capture for each individual, and data linkages across facilities, districts and states in India. Aggregated information at each level, helps identify trends and monitor the epidemic. PALS was developed by the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), with technical assistance from the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and implementation partners including the Voluntary Health Services (VHS), FHI360, WHO and others.

Objective

This assignment carried out to develop a knowledge product on PALS for larger dissemination; by documenting its key features and its success stories and lessons learned. The key objectives are:

  • To document the process, challenges and lessons on development and implementation of PALS
  • To identify and document best practices, success stories and impact by PALS.
  • Situate PALS in the global context - to review global systems of HIV data management to understand the process in which PALS could benefit from such systems simultaneously draw lessons or inform global practice.

Approach & Methodology

Given the objectives of the assignment, interactions with the key stakeholders, desk review of documents including analysis of secondary data was undertaken. The details from the interactions, field observations and desk review formed the basis for this document.

Desk Review
  • Documents on PALS; training manuals; presentations and progress reports on PALS
  • Internet-based search; specifically, on global systems of HIV record keeping
Key Stakeholder Interactions
  • NACO, New Delhi
  • US CDC, DGHT India
  • VHS, Chennai
Field visits in 3 states
  • Odisha
  • Tamil Nadu
  • Telangana
State level officials
  • Project Director,
  • Additional Project Director
  • Joint Director (BSD)
  • Joint Director (CST)
  • M&E Officer
District level officials / DAPCU
  • District AIDS Control Officer
  • District Program Manager
  • District ICTC Supervisor
  • M&E Assistant
Facility Level stakeholders
  • ICTC/PPTCT Counsellors
  • ART Data Managers

Results

Based on the research & documentation, following recommendations were made:

  • Rigorous and sustained capacity building of stakeholders at different levels
    • For facility level staff on the various features and use of the system to effectively enable their daily roles
    • For district and state officials on its use as a tool for program management and epidemic surveillance
  • Technical support to users through phone to enable error free usage
  • Monitoring at the National, State and District levels to ensure real-time data entry into the system, so linkages could be made effectively, and gaps monitored
  • Formation of a core-committee at the National Level, designate a nodal officer at the state level to monitor and review the software periodically, to streamline software development and updating
  • Linkage with other information management systems, such as the MCTS, SIMS and IMS to ensure efficient data capture and tracking across the care continuum

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