IN an effort to put children who are HIV positive on treatment a regional HIV information dissemination organisation, Safaids, has partnered with Community Based Organisations in three provinces in the country to track the children and put them on treatment.
By HealthTimes Reporter
The intervention programme which is called Find Test and Treat the Missing 4 000 is being implemented in Bulawayo, Midlands and Mashonaland East Provinces.
“We are complementing government efforts in terms of fighting HIV so that we get to Zero new infections and have an AIDS free generation so we have come up with this unique intervention programme that is aimed finding children who are HIV positive who are in the communities and we are trying to treat them and give them care,” said Tanyaradzwa Nyakatawa the Programmes Coordinator at Safaids.
Mr Nyakatawa said they are targeting children from zero to nine years who are born with the HIV virus. He said some children are born HIV positive because mothers are not giving birth at health facilities and do not know their status resulting in them transmitting the virus to their children if they are positive. Some mothers are not booking early so by the time they book it will be too late to curb the transmission of the virus from mother to child.
Mr Nyakatawa says they are some religious sects that discourage women from accessing health services and they do not enroll on the program to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
“We realised that in order for us to find these children we need to work with communities and we have developed a strategy where clinics and communities work together. We have managed to train Community Case Finders so that they find the missing children in the communities. These people are from the community and they do understand know the dynamics in the communities and they do a door to door approach to screen and find children who will be tested for HIV,” said Mr Nyakatawa.
“After the screening process the Community Case Finders now refers the children to Community Testers who are trained by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, they are tested in the comfort of their home and if they test positive they are referred to their nearest clinic for a confimatory test and then they are initiated on Anti-Retroviral-Therapy,” he said.
Some of the challenges that the Find Test and Treat programme has been facing is of covering long distances in the districts that they are operating.
“There are long distances between homesteads so while the Community case finders are able to identify children who need HIV testing in the different wards the Community Testers would not get there on time because of the huge distances, so we have purchased Motor Bikes that they will use, said Mr Nyakatawa.
In order to beat these challenges Safaids with the support from Aidsfonds International handed over 15 motorbikes to the three Community Based Organisations.
“The Motor Bikes will be used by the Community Testers who are conducting door to door HIV testing of children from 0 to 9 years old, said Mr Nyakatawa.
The Community Based Organisations that benefitted from the donation of motor bikes are Million Memory Project of Zimbabwe operating in Bulawayo, Jointed Hands Welfare Organization from Midlands and Seke Rural Home Based Care working in Mashonaland East.
The Director of Jointed Hands Welfare Organization Donald Tobaiwa said the Motorbikes are going to enhance the work of Community Testers who have been walking long distances to conduct HIV tests.
“Our Community Testers at times would camp in areas for days so that they are able to cover a lot of ground but with this donation of motorbikes they are now able to move around homesteads conducting door to door tests,” said Mr Tobaiwa.
Trevor Chirimambova Director of Million Memory Project of Zimbabwe said their Community Testers have been using public transport to move around Bulawayo.
“Of late we have been using public transport to move from one place to another, but now with this kind of donation it means we are going to move freely and our testers are going to reach out to all the corners,” said Mr Chirimambova.
Mr Chirimambova said they have identified 40 children in Bulawayo who need to be put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
He said they have realized that it’s not just HIV but they are testing for other ailments such as Tuberculosis.
Veronica Ngwerume the director of Seke Rural Home Based Care said their Community Testers used to walk distances of more than 10 kilometers to conduct HIV tests in the areas that they operate in.
For more information contact Musa Hove Safaids Country Director 0712 155 824