POL’s Pediatric AIDS care program in 2011: here's what we've accomplished!
The Power of Love team would like to thank donors for supporting our pediatric AIDS care program (Arms Reach Care program) in Zambia. With your support we have been able to provide food, medicines, and a package of life-saving health services to 148 HIV positive children in the Matero compound in Lusaka, Zambia. The package of services provided to children includes weekly health check-ups from Community Health workers, monthly visits from the Project Nurse, psychosocial counseling, and education in HIV prevention and adherence monitoring and training for older children. In addition, we provide ongoing training in HIV/AIDS care to caregivers (most of them are grandmothers) of the children.
1. We continue to provide food, medicines, and weekly health visits to all the children enrolled in POL’s pediatric AIDS care program in Lusaka, Zambia. The addition of a high protein soya supplement (particularly for very sick children), has accelerated their weight-gain process and the soya supplement is now a regular component of the food package. As a result, the diet and nutrition level of all families has improved leading to increased weight, fewer infections, and higher CD4 counts (leading to a delay in the start of antiretroviral (ARV) medication). We are proud to report that all children gained weight and showed an improvement in their CD4 count January to October 2011. Finally, improved nutrition and continuous medical care has led to a higher school attendance.
In January 2011, we added 18 children to the program to bring the total to 148 HIV positive children. All children have been tested and all are HIV positive. Out of the 147 (as we lost one child in 2011) HIV positive children, 93 are on ARV’s. Since 100% of the children are HIV positive, 63% are on ARV’s, less than 1/3rd of the children are cared for by both parents, and 2/3rds are orphans, there is a huge need to provide all children with food, medicines and weekly visits by the health care worker/Nurse and to provide continuous monitoring of the health and medication regimen of the children on ARV’s.
2. In 2010 and 2011, eleven out of the 12 children born to women in our prenatal care program were HIV negative.
3. All children who are eligible for school are attending school.
4. All children who are on ARV’s are being monitored to ensure adherence to their medication regime. There are 69 children who are aware of their status and all of them are able to adhere to their medication schedule with minimal support from their care givers. Pill boxes are provided to older children to help them adhere to their medication regimen, and pediatric medicine spoons are provided to caregivers of younger children so that caregivers can give the exact dosage to the child.
5. All children are being provided with psychosocial counseling. Children in our program
need counseling for the following reasons: a. they suffer from fear of loss as soon as a parent is diagnosed with HIV, b. they have to deal with the stigma associated with the disease, and c. if the child is orphaned she/he may have to leave familiar surroundings and may not be readily accepted by the extended family. As a result, counseling is an important part of the child’s mental health and counseling of children and family members has become an important part of our pediatric AIDS care program.
6. Older children who are aware of their status are also provided education on HIV prevention, and risky sexual behaviors.