Children's Rights Centre (CRC)

We seek to contribute to the development of a sustainable child-friendly society in South Africa, with child-friendly policies and practices at all levels of society based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, African Charter on the Rights & Welfare of the Child, and the South African Constitution. We do this through awareness-raising, training, monitoring, advocacy, information sharing and building a children's rights movement including children and adults as partners.
Feb 9, 2016

HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Children

Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable. TB is spread from person to person through the air.When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected. About one third of the world's population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit the disease. Poeple infected with TB bacteria have a 10% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB. However, persons with compromised immune systems, such as people living with HIV, malnutririon or diabetes, or people who use tobacco, have a much higher risk of falling ill.

In commemoration of the upcoming World TB Day Awareness dated 24 March 2016; Children's Rights Centre in partnership with Yezingane Network( Secretariat of children's sector) will share on its social media informative TB fact sheet informing and reminding people about the risk of TB and how it can be treated. As it has been identified in previous reports that tuberculosis mostly affected young adults in their most productive years and South Africa being one of the countries with the highest berden, we need to do everything in our capacity to ensure that messages of awareness are being sent out!

According to UNICEF without preventative interventions,approximately one-third of infants born to HIV-positive mothers contract HIV through mother-to-child transmission, becoming infected during their mothers' pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

 

This is why we try by all means at any given opportunity to promote and remind all women about the benefits of breastfeeding.

PS. Breastfeeding benefits are the same for HIV positive or negative women!

“Find TB. Treat TB. Working together to eliminate TB”.

Jan 12, 2016

Feedback Report on My Living Positively Handbook

This is a full-colour picture handbook for children living with HIV published by the Children's Rights Centre. It encourages children to live positively and to participate actively in the medical and health management of their illness. The book was informed by children, families, doctors, nurses and teachers. Pictures, activities and simple information provide the child with advice and clear explanations of health and treatment issues.

The support of donors through the Global Giving site is deeply appreciated and acknowledged and it has been through your assistance that we have been able to make the “My Living Positively” series a reality for many children and caregivers across South Africa.

Ever since Children's Rights Centre started distributing this handbook in April 2009, we have received nothing but positive feedback from Child Health Care Workers and other organisations who use the book as a training tool. We have also received a number of requests from partner organisations such as NACOSA (Networking AIDS Community of South Africa) and MATCH (Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health) to mention but a few asking for more copies as they find the handbook very helpful, simple and easy for children to work with and also understand their HIV status. To date we have distributed more than 8000 handbooks with the adult guides namely "Helping Children living with HIV." These were also translated into 2 indigenous languages IsiZulu and Xhosa.

Due to the demand of the materials we have once again run out of stock and currently do not have enough funding to print more copies for distribution to all other organisations in need of this very useful handbook. Children's Rights Centre has tried other means of fundraising to cover the printing costs but this was insufficient. We therefore urge all people to please continue donating in order for us to reprint the handbook to continue helping our children deal with their HIV status and also educate others.

We thank you for your commitment and support in helping children living with HIV.

Aug 20, 2013

Promoting Breastfeeding for HIV Positive Mothers and how their infants can benefit from it

Breastfeeding and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV

Breastfeeding is universally accepted as the food of choice for all young infants. It provides all the nutritional requirements for infants up to six months of age – there is no need for additional food or water and also has other non-nutritional properties that are necessary for optimal growth and brain development in young babies. As such, the global recommendations for optimal nutrition of young infants and children by the WHO and UNICEF is exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary feeding beginning at six months of age with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age.

The benefits of breastfeeding, both short and long term are multiple and varied.

Benefits for the baby

Breastfeeding is cost effective and readily available. Breast milk makes the baby’s immune system strong because it contains unique antibodies. Infections like pneumonia and ear infections are more common and more severe in infants who are not breastfed. Breastfeeding has been shown to have a protective effect against necrotizing enterocolitis (inflammation of the bowels) in premature infants. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of allergy mediated diseases such as type one diabetes and asthma later in life. Breastfeeding is associated with greater intelligence in older childhood and adulthood. Breastfeeding has also been shown to potentially have a protective effect on obesity and childhood leukaemia. The use of formula milk in developing countries may increase the risk of mortality in young children by causing diarrhoeal diseases. Formula feeding is also associated with poor growth and development.

Benefits for the mother

Breastfeeding also has short and long term benefits for the mother. It results in a quicker contraction of the womb after delivery and thus minimizes bleeding after delivery. Breastfeeding promotes mother and child bonding and has been shown to be protective against depression or post-delivery “blues”. Breastfeeding assists may also be a form of contraception by delaying the periods from returning after the baby. (You still need to use additional contraception though!) Women who breastfeed their infants have been found in studies to have a decreased risk of having breast and ovarian cancer than their non breastfeeding counterparts.

Unfortunately, the HIV pandemic has resulted in conflicting messages about breastfeeding and this has overshadowed the benefits associated with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has also been under threat from the competitive and often unethical promotion of industrial breast milk substitutes by companies producing formula milk.

Research has shown that the HI virus is transmitted through breast milk from the breastfeeding mother to her infant, and the risk of transmission is present for as long as the infant is breastfed. Public health experts estimate that HIV-infected mothers have a 10 to 15 percent chance of passing the virus to their newborns through their breast milk.In developed countries, women who are HIV infected are encouraged to avoid breastfeeding. This is because avoidance of breastfeeding in the developed world is not accompanied by the adverse results of formula feeding seen in developing countries. In the developing countries, avoidance of breastfeeding is associated with increased risk of death and poor growth and development due to increased risk of diarrhoeal and respiratory infections and malnutrition. As such, HIV infected women in developing countries are faced with the dilemma of either transmitting the HI virus to their infants through breastfeeding or risking their children dying, malnutrition and poor growth if they avoid breastfeeding.

Policies that encouraged the avoidance of breastfeeding are based on studies from developed countries and have been shown to be inappropriate for the developing countries.

We now know from extensive research that exclusive breastfeeding lowers the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV. Antiretroviral treatment given to the mother and the baby also lowers the transmission of HIV from mother to infant. Antiretroviral treatment for the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) has evolved over the years from a single drug (Nevirapine) given to the mother in labour to fixed dose combination antiretroviral drugs. Atroiza is a combination of three drugs that are used in treating HIV: Tenofovir, Emtricitabine and Efavirenz. Atroiza is taken once daily by all pregnant women who test HIV positive during their antenatal care. The combination treatment is continued throughout the pregnancy and during breastfeeding. The newborn HIV exposed baby is also started on a daily dose of Nevirapine syrup for six weeks. The provision of combination antiretroviral drugs to both mother and baby and exclusive breastfeeding for six months with continued breastfeeding up to one year as recommended in the current South African PMTCT policy of April 2013 makes breastfeeding much safer even in HIV positive women.

The problem is that most breastfeeding mothers do not practice exclusive breastfeeding. Breastfed babies often receive water, formula and even other foods in combination with breastmilk before six months of age. Mixed feeding (mixing breast milk with water, other foods or formula) increases the risk of the HI virus being transmitted to the baby because the young infants delicate bowels become damaged by the foods which make it easy for the virus to get into the baby through the cracks.

The challenge for health care professionals is to educate and support mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of an infant’s life. There is a need to expel myths and change mindsets towards exclusive breastfeeding by continuous education and support. This together with the provision of antiretroviral drugs as per national policy will ensure that babies get the full benefits of breastfeeding and remain free of HIV infection.

In conclusion

Exclusive breastfeeding, even in HIV positive women is an important strategy for child survival. If antiretroviral drugs are given to both mother and baby and an HIV-positive woman is fully adherent with the treatment throughout the duration of breastfeeding, the actual risk of transmitting HIV through breast milk is exceedingly low.

The best food for all babies is still breast milk. This is true whether or not a mother is HIV infected.

 
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