The Power of Love team would like to thank you for your continued support for our pediatric HIV care program in Zambia. Your support and caring has gone a long way in improving the lives of several hundred children and families infected/impacted by HIV, AIDS and malaria. This program is located in the community of Matero - one of the largest and poorest in Lusaka, Zambia. In addition, Matero is characterized with a high incidence of HIV, AIDS, and malaria, and unemployment rates upwards of 60%. Since most residents are poor and live on less than a dollar a day, they are unable to pay for basic health care services for their HIV+ children and can benefit from this program.
With your generous support, we were able to expand our pediatric HIV care program by adding 50 HIV+ children in February 2015. This brings the total number of children in our program to 250. Each of these 250 children receives food, medicines, and a package of life-saving health care services. The package of services includes weekly home visits from community health workers, monthly visits from the Project Nurse, psychosocial counseling, education on prevention of HIV, and adherence to medication monitoring and training. In addition, we provide ongoing training in caring for an HIV+ child to caregivers (most are grandmothers caring for multiple children). As a result, most children improve in health and enjoy a better quality of life.
Since 2004, more than 600 HIV+ children have benefitted directly and an additional 1600 children and family members are indirect beneficiaries as trained family members are able to take better care of all children at home and share their knowledge with others in the community. It has been our experience that after a few months on our program the children improve in health and are able to go back to school.
Given below are a few measures of the impact of this program over the last year or so.
- Health: Over the last year, the diet and nutrition of all children has improved leading to increased weight, fewer infections, and higher CD4 counts (which is good as it can delay the start of antiretroviral medication). In the first nine months 2015, 44 children showed an increase in weight and 17 children showed an improvement in CD4 counts; only three children had lower CD4 counts and four children lost weight. Also, we have seen a marked decline in the number, intensity and frequency of opportunistic infections.
- Education: Older children and caregivers have a better understanding of HIV prevention and care. In addition, trained caregivers share their knowledge with others leading to a more informed community.
- Reduction in Stigma: As a result of better information about HIV, and improved health of the children there is a reduction in the stigma associated with HIV.
- Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) program: Over the last four years, 100% of new born babies were HIV free even though their moms and siblings are HIV positive. Since inception of this PMTCT component 31 children out of a total of 32 were born HIV free.
- Adherence to Medication and Clinic Visits: Older children who are aware of their HIV+ status received training in adherence to medication. As of September 2015, there was 100% compliance to medications.
- Schooling: All children who are eligible for school are attending school. An improvement in health due to better nutrition and continuous medical care has led to a higher school attendance and performance. We are proud as 90% of the children who wrote grade seven exams (this exam determines eligibility for middle school) passed.
- Screening for Cancer/HIV: All caregivers are tested for HIV and provided with counseling. Out of a total of 218 caregivers, 190 were tested and 159 tested positive for HIV. HIV positive caregivers were provided with counseling.
- Malaria Prevention: As a result of provision of bed nets and education on prevention of malaria, the incidence of malaria has decreased.
Overall, our pediatric HIV care program benefits 250 HIV+ children directly, and an additional 1600 children and family members indirectly as our trained caregivers share their learning with others in the community. We believe that provision of continuous quality health care to the children, and training and support to their care givers, has resulted in better health and attendance at school. Finally, the residents of Matero have come to rely on our much needed health care services and we have become an integral part of this community.
Next Steps: Our focus for 2015 and beyond continues to be the provision of a quality health care and training in HIV prevention to the children and families, business training and micro loans to women, and mosquito bed nets and education on prevention of malaria to the community. The ripple effects of this comprehensive approach are huge and long lasting for the community.
Please donate generously to help HIV positive children continue to play, attend school, and live healthy lives. And as always, 100% of your donations go towards programs and no part is used for overheads.
Thanks for your gift of health.