NAC/UNICEF Collaborate To Integrate WASH and HIV Programs For Positive Health Outcomes In Sanyati

IN a bid to reduce diarrhoeal induced morbidity and mortality amongst People Living with HIV (PLHIV) as well as influence behavior change, the National AIDS Council (NAC) has partnered the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNCEF) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) to integrate HIV and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programs in Sanyati districts.  

By Michael Gwarisa recently in Sanyati

A study conducted by the Anglo-American Group foundation indicate that Diarrhoea remains a very common disease affecting about 90% of people living with HIV in Southern Africa, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. More than 80% of diarrhoeal cases in Southern Africa are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. According to the 2020 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee survey (ZIMVAC), areas in Mashonaland West province including Sanyati, recorded the highest diarrhoeal (33%) infections as compared to other provinces around the country.

In an interview with HealthTimes on the side-lines of a media tour that was organised by the National Aids Council (NAC) in Sanyati, the District AIDS Coordinator (DAC) for Sanyati, Virginia Tausa said they have witnessed positive behaviour change at household level as communities have heeded the call to construct decent ablution facilities as well as improve on their hygiene and waste disposal practices.

When someone is HIV positive, they are Immuno-compromised so if they don’t have access to clean water, they are prone to diarrhoeal diseases and diarrhoea being an opportunistic infection, it means when they develop diarrhoea, they lose appetite and their immune system becomes worse than before. Here in Sanyatai, out of 175 households in Ward 11, there were only 15 households with toilets but now out of the 175 households, 170 have toilets now and five have temporary toilets. Now more than 100% of households have access to toilets and the councillor are very supportive.

“As NAC working with UNICEF, after identifying the challenges that people were facing especially the lack of water and toilets and also the prevalence of HIV in the district of Sanyati, we managed to train the community cadres and also sensitise community leaders that is the Chiefs, the Councillors and the Village-heads.  After the sensitisation, they had the appreciation of the challenges that are faced by people when they don’t have good sanitation,” said Tausa.

According to the UNAIDS, People living with HIV have an increased requirement for WASH services and studies have shown that improved hygiene practices can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by up to 30% or more, thereby improving health and protecting livelihoods.  Tausa added that most households in Sanyati have since erected makeshift manually operated homemade tapes known as Chigubu gear or the Tippy Tap for which dispenses clean water for handwashing especially after visiting the rest room.

“Because of the acceptance in the communities, a change is being seen and we have witnessed this from the Krall Heads like we have one Krall Head Kuvimba Nemoyo who didn’t have the Tippy Tape at his homestead, he did not have the pot rack and neither did he have a pit to dump garbage but now they have and he is the one mobilising the community.

“We are seeing a positive change in the community, the councillors are very supportive, we have 18 Wards in the Rural areas and 17 in the urban but they are all supportive and we are seeing a change. Even when we work with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), after these people go to make report, the response is positive.

“If the people have clean and safe water, and they get good education and their water is treated, it helps their immune system doesn’t get attacks from opportunistic diarrhoeal infections. When it comes to water issues, yes there are still some challenges but households have manged to sink some wells and we work with the environmental health department from the ministry of health who are providing those tablets for disinfecting the water so that it becomes safe to drink.”

The project started in 2019 February and according to NAC the program has been moving well ever since it commenced in the district. However, numerous factors have been affecting HIV programming in the area.

“The biggest challenge we have in HIV programming in this area is the geography of this area. You know this is the City of gold and we have a lot of small-scale miners around and we also have a lot of sex work even child sex work. We have sex workers even as young as 12 or 14 years, sometimes we had a shortage of condoms especially during the lockdown and when we had meetings with sex workers, they were telling us that they were communicating business online with their clients but they did not have condoms to use especially in the mining areas.

“We are working even with nurses in issues of HIV and AIDS like during the Covid-19 lockdown period, we had challenges of some of our clients who were not able to get their HIV treatment and supplies. Because we were working with health workers, our community mobilisers would go to the health facilities and help the clients to get treatment,” said Tausa.

Sanyati has a population density of about 220 000 and has more than 20 000 people living with HIV, which is about 13.5% of the entire Sanyati population.

Faith Kadore, an HIV and Cholera mobiliser in Sanyati said, “ever since we started learning about HIV and Cholera, we have trained communities on the advantages of having toilets at home, on the advantages of having clean and safe water as well as waste dumping pits. We also trained people to build temporary toilets in a bid to reduce the high rates of open defecation.”

Meanwhile, Kadoma City Council Environmental Health Officer, Lucia Marufu said the challenge of open defecation was still rife in some parts of Sanyati especially in public places and areas where artisanal mining is happening the most.

“From reports we have been getting, indications are that some wards did not have toilets and after the program, most people have built toilets at their homesteads. Open defecation is still rampart especially in areas where artisanal mining is practiced because there are no decent ablution facilities in those areas and miners relief themselves in the bushes.

“There is need for increased awareness at community level to ensure open defecation becomes a thing of the past in these parts. People should be taught to use toilets especially public toilets responsibly and they should have decent toilets even at public places. At the end of the day, if a toilet especially a public toilet is not used properly people, may end up neglecting the toilets and resorting to bushes,” said Marufu.

 

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