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 Health  Mali Project #4874

Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients

by GAIA Vaccine Foundation
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Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients
Nutrition and peer support for HIV+ patients

The impacts of COVID-19 includes unprecedented fatalities, shutdowns, and quarantines
around the world. Yet when thinking about the effects of this virus, it is often forgetten how it impacts the retrieval of basic human necessities, such as food and water. 


In Mali, women regularly go to the market to purchase fresh produce for their homes. One impact of the shutdown in Mali is that some markets have been forced to close. This has meant that mant individuals are unable to even retrieve the basic necessities to cook and provide food for their families. This is even greater capitalized by the fact that many Malians have lost their job amidst the worldwide economic collapse, meaning that many in the country do not have the resources to pay for the market or travel to receive food, a deadly combination caused and exacerbated by the pandemic. According to a report by the World Food Programme estimates a 70% increase in food insecurity within West Africa by August. The time to provide basic necessities (food and water) has never been so essential.

At GAIA Vaccine Foundation, we have continued to support basic nutrition throughkeeping our “Nutrition and Peer Support” program at the Hope Clinic, our most widely utilized initiative. Even amidst the shutdown, the clinic was able to enforce social distancing procedures while providing food for Malian families, distributing over 250 meals.Given the existing poor health infrastructure, job loss, increased number of COVID-19 cases, and lack of access to food/water, we anticipate a steep increase in the necessity for the HIV+ members in our community to utilize our “Nutrition and Peer Support Program” at GAIA Vaccine Foundation. However, in order to sustain the Hope Clinic operations and ensure that many in the Malian community do not face starvation, we need your donations!

A small donation of $10 provides a weekly meal for an HIV+ patient-- and $100 is
enough to give an entire meal for 25 people. At this time, it has never been more essential to support the basic nutrition of the Malian people. Each day, as the number of cases rises exponentially and the shutdowns expand, many do not have basic access to retrieve even small meals, concurrent with the loss of jobs that continues to leave many Malians struggling both with basic nutrition and a declining economy. Your donation goes a long way in ensuring the provision of basic necessities towards our community. There has never been a more important time to support our vulnerable population not only from the virus itself, but its catalytic effects in ravaging the economy, access to food, and weakening the already underdeveloped healthcare system in Mali.

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As the world continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19, nutrition and peer support for HIV-positive patients are more important than ever. As always, an important part of GAIA’s mission is to provide support (in many contexts) to people living with HIV. GAIA’s work providing food to the Sikoro community is crucial in this time, as COVID-19 has made it more difficult for many Malians to obtain healthy food.

When asked about the risks and effects of COVID-19 on people living with HIV, Dr. Gulick at Michigan State University said that, “when properly treated, HIV-positive patients are at no greater risk of contracting COVID-19, but that his patients are suffering from isolation and further stigmatization during this time.” 

Although COVID-19 has complicated the ability to provide in-person peer support, Hope Center Clinic is still running the weekly Nutrition Program, providing healthy food for the Sikoro community. Social distancing measures are in place so that these essential food distribution events can continue. It is vital that we keep distributing food to communities in need so that people are healthy, able to take care of themselves, and able to adhere to medication regimens. 

Please consider donating to GAIA, as we work to provide food for HIV+ patients and other community members. Food security is more important now than ever, and we are working to ensure that HIV-positive patients and other community members have the nutrition to sustain themselves and their families during this pandemic.

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The spread of COVID-19 across the world has decimated economies and transformed daily life in ways big and small. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the virus  not only threatens livelihoods, but also exasperates hunger and malnutrition on the continent. 

Many Africans, especially in rural areas, do not have access to electricity and subsequently refrigerators or other ways to extend the lifespan of perishable foods like fish, meat, and vegetables. Malian women go to the market frequently (some every day) to buy fresh produce. However, with lockdown restrictions, many are unable to venture out of the house as frequently or store food for long periods of time. With the loss of jobs, many are now unable to afford the necessary food to feed their families. Schools have been closed in Mali since March and students do not receive the afternoon meals they would otherwise. 

Hope Center Clinic continues to run the Nutrition Program weekly which provides an important source of healthy food to the Sikoro community. While the Malian government has banned gatherings larger than 50 people, GAIA and Hope Center Clinic continue to serve the Sikoro community with social distancing measures in place. In April, 265 meals were distributed.

GAIA aims to make meals available “to go” to be delivered to Hope Center Clinic’s HIV+ patients who are particularly susceptible to COVID-19. A donation of just $15, will fund essential “to go” meals to keep HIV+ patients healthy throughout this extremely difficult time.

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The Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients program continues to be one of Hope Center Clinic’s most utilized and impactful program. In 2019, over 3,627 people attended, more than 1,1837 of which were children.

In a 2019 report by USAID, the organization estimated that approximately 554,000 people will require urgent food assistance. That is over 3% of Mali’s population! The report also estimates that 868,000 Malians (160,000 children) will experience severe acute malnutrition and require nutrition assistance. 

GAIA Vaccine Foundation provides vital support to Hope Center Clinic to ensure the Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients program runs weekly. While many in Mali are suffering from malnutrition and inadequate access to consistent healthful food, those often most at risk are members of the HIV+ community, as well as women and girls. 

A donation of $10 provides a weekly meal to an HIV+ patient. A donation of $100 provides enough food for 25 people. 

Thank you for your support to the Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients program and GAIA Vaccine Foundation!

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This October, GAIA Vaccine Foundation celebrated World Food Day, a day marked by the United Nations which seeks to bring awareness to issues related to food insecurity. Since 1982, World Food Day has aimed to bring people together across the world in the fight to end global hunger. At present, the Food Aid Foundation estimates 795 million people in the world to have inadequate access to the necessary food that is essential for leading a healthy and active life.  

The 2019 World Food Day theme is"Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World".The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) writes, "Achieving Zero Hunger is not only about addressing hunger, but also nourishing people, while nurturing the planet. This year, World Food Day calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone."

A recent report estimated 600.56 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa to be food insecure. Food security does not only relate to having access to enough calories to consume, but also access to food that is nutritious and affordable. The FAO defines a healthy diet as "one that meets the nutritional needs of individuals by providing sufficient, safe, nutritious and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce the risk of disease". 

GAIA Vaccine Foundation understands the importance of a healthy diet, particularly when undergoing medical treatment. This is especially true for our HIV+ patients at Hope Center Clinic in Sikoro, Mali, which is why in 2008 GAIA founded its' "Nutrition and Peer Support for HIV+ Patients" program.

Twice per week, HIV+ staff prepare a nutritious meal for HIV+ members of the community and their families. This program not only provides healthy meals, but also seeks to combat the stigma attached to HIV by bringing members of the community together. In 2019, GAIA and Hope Center Clinic have already served over 3,000 meals!

With your ongoing support, GAIA can continue to serve meals to some of the most vulnerable people in Sikoro. A donation of just $30 provides a weekly meal for 1 mother and 3 children. 

Thank you for your generous support to GAIA and our programs!

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GAIA Vaccine Foundation

Location: Providence, RI - USA
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Twitter: @GAIAVaccine
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GAIA Vaccine Foundation
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Providence, RI United States

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