The Power of Love team would like to say a big thank you for your continued support for our pediatric HIV care program in Zambia. Your support over the last several years has resulted in a community of healthy children attending school, families more self-reliant, and a more sustainable community.
Project Rationale: Globally, 15 million children have been orphaned due to AIDS and about 1.7 million children were living with HIV in 2018; but only 54% had access to ARV medication. Moreover, life expectancy for a child born with HIV is at best 5 years. Hence, there is a huge need to care for HIV+ orphans and vulnerable children and prevent new HIV infections. However, providing cost-effective pediatric care in resource-strapped sub-Saharan Africa is a significant challenge. We believe we can end AIDS: Ending AIDS will generate profound health and economic benefits globally. The African countries will see a significant increase in GDP and ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages will put the world on the path to sustainable development as outlined by the UN’s sustainable development goals for 2030.
Location and Need: Zambia is a country with 60% of the population living in poverty, a high prevalence of HIV and malaria, and AIDs has orphaned around 250,000 children. Most orphans live with grandmothers/extended family with little knowledge of HIV and no source of income. Finally, climate change has led to drought conditions which has resulted in a decline in economic growth, inflation, and a weak currency. The need for pediatric HIV care programs is huge.
To help end AIDS, the following program activities were completed in Zambia in 2019:
- added 50 HIV+ children to bring the total to 450 HIV+ children under our care. Our goal is that no child under our care develops AIDS, ever.
- 61 family members were provided with training in basic nursing and HIV. The goal of this training is to educate families on how to prevent HIV, treat common infections, and escalate care in a timely manner.
- 111 children were provided with support for school expenses such as fees, uniforms, shoes and book bags.
- Ongoing education and training on HIV, STI’s, and adherence provided to our health care team.
New Projects and Plans for 2020:
- Provide clean cooking stoves to families. These stoves will improve the health of families, reduce fuel costs and can be sued as an income generating asset.
- Launch a community wide adherence program for adolescents and young adults (ages 14-24), as adherence rates are lowest for these age groups.
- Continue to provide comprehensive care and school support to HIV+ children.
- Monitor the academic progress of 150 children provided with school support.
- Track graduates and encourage them to volunteer as mentors.
- Continue to target zero new HIV infections with PMTCT intervention.
- Expand the skill set of community members via education and training programs.
Ongoing Program Activities in 2019
Direct beneficiaries are 450 HIV+ children and their families. Indirect beneficiaries are an additional 2,200 residents as families share their knowledge with others. About 70% of children live in households headed by an older sibling/aunt/grandaunt/grandmother or relatives. Many children suffer from trauma, abuse, lack of food, grief at losing a parent and need counseling. Family members also need support as they lack resources and skills to care for all household members under their care.
Ongoing program activities include:
- Provision of food (mealie meal, beans) to 450 HIV+ children. In addition, high protein soya supplement and cooking oil was provided to 200 undernourished or malnourished children.
- Provision of medicines.
- Regular health check-ups via home visits (measure weight, height, BP, oxygenation, check for rashes, sores, escalate care to the next higher level as needed).
- Psycho-social counseling to children aware of their HIV status.
- Education in HIV as improved knowledge about HIV is critical for treatment to be effective. In 2019, 77% women were tested for HIV and several hundred were encouraged to do the same. Out of 335 tested for HIV, 252 tested positive and are now on treatment, which implies that 252 women living with HIV are now poor transmitters of the HIV virus.
- Training in basic nursing provided to 61 family members.
- Monitoring and training in adherence to medication provided to 201 children.
- Ongoing training in HIV: 432 family members are provided with training in basic home nursing, hygiene, HIV care and prevention.
- Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) training for HIV+ pregnant women whose children are enrolled.
- No cases of malaria were reported as families were provided with long lasting insecticide treated nets and education.
- School support (tuition, books, uniforms, shoes, bags) was provided to 111 children whose families cannot afford school expenses.
- all children are encouraged to participate in our “Safe Park” program. The goal of this program is to improve the mental health of children by providing a safe environment for them to play and learn and counselling to family members.
Program activities listed above, have set off a chain reaction of positive outcomes. For example, better health and improved knowledge leads to a reduction in HIV related stigma which encourages more people to get tested resulting in prevention. This, in turn, leads to a lower incidence of HIV and fewer deaths due to AIDS. In addition, better health implies fewer missed days at school/work. The result is more sustainable families.
Long term impact: Over the last 16 years, survival rates for children have been approximately 98%, opportunistic infections drop to 20-25% of pre-enrollment levels once the child has been on the program for 5-6 months, there is a marked improvement in malnutrition levels, there is a reduction in stigma associated with HIV, school attendance is higher, and families are more self-reliant in taking care of their health.
About Our Pediatric HIV Care Program
Vision, mission and goals: Our vision is a world where the AIDS epidemic is in continuous retreat, and people living with HIV have access to loving care and treatment in an environment free of stigma and discrimination. Our mission is to help families become self-reliant in taking care of their health. And our goal is to provide high quality care to children living with HIV, prevent new HIV infections and empower women.
Need and Location: Power of Love’s pediatric HIV care program is based in Matero, one of the largest and poorest compounds in Lusaka, Zambia. Matero (and neighboring compounds) have a population of 150,000 to 175,000 and are characterized with a high incidence of HIV (prevalence rate of 11.5% among adults aged 15-49), and unemployment rates upward of 60%. Most residents live on less than a $2 per day – defined as extreme poverty by the UN. It is estimated that at least 5,000 children in Matero can benefit from a pediatric HIV care program such as ours.
This program is unique as we try to reach the entire family through multiple programs. For example, all families receive mosquito bed nets, are encouraged to enroll in our “Safe Park” program and apply for a micro loan. The goal of this multi-pronged approach is family sustainability and self-reliance. Second, we are embedded in the communities as we have been working with them for the past 16 years. Our health care team knows beneficiaries on a personal level and understand their circumstances. Third, church pastors and community organizations provide us with referrals. This has resulted in community participation in the design and implementation of project activities.
Building More Sustainable and Peaceful Communities
The comprehensive package of services provided takes care of physical, educational, social, psychological, and income generation, needs of the women and children. Every day we see families, transform themselves from a state of poor health, low education and poverty to being informed and self-reliant. This helps reduce gender and income inequalities, a critical step toward building more sustainable, non-discriminatory, and peaceful communities.