The Wellness Wagon provides mobile healthcare
Starfish Greathearts Foundation recently conducted a community profiling exercise at Loaves and Fishes Network in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, to determine the impact that your donations have had on the lives of children affected by HIV in that community.
The results found that the Eastern Cape has a poorer socioeconomic and health status than the average for all the provinces of South Africa. People linked to the daycare centers in Newlands demonstrated first-hand knowledge of what living with HIV entails for adults and children within families. Children in the community are living in an area of high HIV and TB prevalence, and your support of Starfish USA ensures that local daycare centers, like Loaves and Fishes Network, are equipped to protect the health and wellbeing of these young children.
In the community, half of the children do not live with their parents, but with their grandmothers where the households are heavily reliant on social grants. The underpinning situation of poverty translates to poor nutrition, limits access to quality health services and a deprived physical environment, driving the reported social ills of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy.
HIV and AIDS are highly stigmatized, even though the majority of the respondents personally knew people living with HIV and AIDS. The HIV prevalence amongst women attending clinics in the area is almost 30% and over a quarter of the mothers of children attending the daycare centers are living with HIV.
To mitigate the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on the wellbeing of children in the Newlands community, Starfish is working to ensure that the daycare centers we support serve as a resource for knowledge and support on health related issues, in addition to ensuring school readiness for the young children.
Your donation helps Starfish:
- Train teaching staff and guardians on HIV and AIDS, TB, and management of childhood illness
- Provide testing for HIV and screening for TB through the Starfish Wellness Wagon, a mobile clinic
- Provide healthcare screening through the Wellness Wagon for malnutrition, immunization and developmental milestones
- Provide transport to hospital or healthcare specialists, where necessary
- Train social workers to improve the general environment for children
This would help to the reduce the stigma of HIV, creating conditions where more parents and caregivers could get tested and take their HIV-exposed children for testing, followed by support for those on treatment, through establishing of adherence clubs. The daycare centers make a meaningful contribution to addressing the context of the generalized HIV epidemic existing in Newlands.
Statistics show the high burden of HIV disease in South Africa as a whole and in the Eastern Cape in particular. Almost one third of pregnant women in the Eastern Cape were HIV positive, leading to a requirement for a strong prevention of mother to child transmission program, ongoing linkage to care for women, and monitoring of the status of babies. Those children who become infected with HIV need to be linked to the health system for treatment, care and support.
There is simultaneously a great awareness of HIV, and strong stigma attached to the disease, and the majority of people interviewed were reluctant to talk about HIV. During the survey, participants were asked to describe how HIV affects a child who is living with the disease:
“Children are treated differently. Some children are not told their status, especially when they are young. Other children, especially older children, are told their status, and then have to deal with the knowledge.”
“A child who is HIV positive is not different from the negative one, they both live the same life”.
“The child has to face life so it is difficult, but the child still has to face life”.
“Sometimes the child cannot go to school due to sickness”.
Children who are HIV positive may experience stigma from the community. As the child gets older, and his/her status is disclosed, children may feel confused, isolated from their peers and their family, and uncertain of whether they will survive. When on antiretroviral treatment, they may experience difficulties with accessing treatment and being adherent due to stigma
Sadly, the people living in the Newlands community are all too well acquainted with HIV and its devastating effects on the community, and more specifically on their children.
Support Starfish and help these children affected with HIV take up the challenge of living positively with the disease and live their lives to the fullest.
Growing food gardens to feed hungry children
Donate to bring smiles to children in South Africa
Training on HIV and childhood illnesses
Providing HIV and TB testing in our mobile clinic