A beneficiary family with the Project Nurse
The Power of Love team truly appreciates your continued support for our pediatric HIV care program in Zambia. Your support and caring has given the gift of health to several hundred children and families infected/impacted by HIV, AIDS and malaria. Beneficiary families are residents of Matero – one of the largest and poorest compounds in Lusaka, Zambia.
Over the last few months, some of the new programs and activities that were implemented are listed below:
Expansion: In March 2016, we added 50 HIV+ children to our pediatric HIV care program bringing the total to 300 children. The new children have been tested for HIV, and a customized health plan has been designed for all children. In addition, the health of these new children is being monitored closely as they were in poor health at the time of enrollment. As part of the expansion activities, 65 family members (61 women and 4 men) were trained in HIV care and prevention so that their children are under the care of a trained caregiver 24/7.
In this set of 50 children, only nine live with both parents; creating the need for psychosocial counseling and support. Most of the new children are in the age group of 6-12 years so we expect them to be with us till they graduate high school.
Children Graduated: In November 2015, 21 children graduated from our pediatric HIV care program as they turned 18 years of age and these children were replaced with new enrollees.
Zero New HIV Infections: One of our big achievements over the last five years has been zero new HIV infections. Since 2011, 100% of the babies born in our Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) program, have been HIV free. To date, out of the 33 babies born only one child was HIV+, even though the new born babies have HIV positive moms and older siblings.
Pilot Electronic Health Records (EHR): A pilot version of a simple EHR system was implemented last November. The EHR system is being customized and once this is complete data for all 300 children will be entered into the system. We will then be able to track the health (medical history, past infections, new infections etc.) of each child This will have huge impact on our ability to monitor, diagnose and treat infections and we are confident will lead to improved health outcomes and cost management.
Next Steps: In October 2016, we are planning on adding 50 children to bring the total number of children under our care to 350.
Measuring Success and Direct Impact of our Pediatric HIV care Program
Given below are a few measures of the success of this program.
(i) As a result of better diet and nutrition most children improved in health as seen by increased weight, fewer infections, and higher CD4 counts. In 2016, all children except 13 reduced in weight and nine had a drop in their CD4 counts. A large number of opportunistic infections were prevented/treated before they could compromise a child’s health.
(ii) Psycho social counseling provided has led to better health and a sense of belonging in the community.
(iii) Training in adherence to medication has led to 100% compliance to medication. Older children were able to visit the clinic on their own.
(iv) Screening for Cancer/HIV: Family members have come forward for HIV testing as they are counselled to go in for testing for HIV and cancer screening.
(v) As a result of provision of bed nets and education on prevention of malaria, the incidence of malaria has decreased. In 2015/16, only two children contracted malaria, were treated and are doing well.
Reduction in Stigma: As a result of the provision of education in prevention of HIV, older children and adults are better informed about HIV, and share their knowledge with others in the community. This has led to a reduction in the stigma associated with HIV.
Zero new HIV Infections: Over the last five years, 100% of new born babies were HIV free. Since inception, 33 out of a total of 34 children were born HIV free, even though they have HIV+ moms and siblings.
Schooling: All children who are eligible are attending school. In April 2016, five children were supported with funds for school fees and expenses (to date 25 children have been provided with such support). In addition, every Saturday morning, children are invited to participate in educational games and activities and homework help is provided. This has led to higher school attendance and performance. Families of children are counselled as needed.
To Sum: Survival rates for children are approximately 95%, opportunistic infections drop to 20-25% of pre-enrollment levels once the child has been on the program for 3-4 months, there is a marked improvement in the malnutrition levels (which can aggravate the effects of HIV), there is a reduction in stigma associated with HIV, and school attendance is higher. Since 2004, more than 600 HIV+ children have benefitted directly and an additional 1900 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. We believe that provision of continuous quality health care and training and support to care givers, has resulted in better health of the family and higher attendance at school. Finally, residents of Matero have come to rely on our much needed health care services and we have become an integral part of this community.
Thanks for caring!
Children in our program
A dad whose child is in our program
Health check up in a beneficiary family's home