Rozaria Memorial Trust project " Supporting Children Living with HIV in Murewa with Access to Education and Treatment" has made great impact for children living with HIV in Murewa Zimbabwe, a rural communities face extreme challenges to access treatment, education, and nutrition. Many such children live in extreme poverty, enduring social stigma and discrimination. The project directly supported almost 200 children living with HIV and AIDS, and over 2000 young people of school going age in 30 villages within the district. Continue reading
Early HIV Diagnosis Vital for Children Living with HIV
Tremendous progress has been made over the past few years in diagnosing and treatment of children living with HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe. Despite this positive development, there is a bigger number of infants and children whose HIV status is not known especially in the rural communities resulting in them failing to be administered on life serving Anti-retroviral Drugs on time. It is estimated that 150 000 children aged between 0-14 years are living with HIV in Zimbabwe.
The Story of Sarah (not real name) of Masango Village, Murewa, Zimbabwe
Sarah is a six (6) year old girl from Masango Village in Murewa. She lives with her single mother who is involved in the cross boarder business for survival. With Sarah health continuing to decline and being symptomatic to HIV, she was referred to RMT by a relative after realising the hidden fear of the mother in seeking for HIV testing for the child .Some of the established reasons that inhibited testing for Sarah included the following:
- The mother's unpreparedness to take the child for an HIV test for fear that she will face prejudice once diagnosed.
- The mother does not know her HIV status thereby fearful of discovering that the child is infected which would likely mean that she is infected also.
Colleta, RMT Programme Officer discussed with the mother on the health situation of the child and indicated to her the importance of HIV testing for Sarah. The mother agreed to visit Murewa General Hospital for HIV testing.
Sarah tested HIV positive with a CD 4 count of 90 which indicated that the child has suffered a severe Immuno-suppression as result of HIV. RMT catered for the medical fees for the child and continued providing psycho-social support for the mother to enable her to fully comprehend issues of paedriatic care and treatment before the child was administered on Anti-Retroviral Therapy. Through RMT school fees support system, Sandra has been enrolled for grade zero (pre-school) at Hurungwe Early Childhood Development Centre.
After three weeks of commencement of ART, Sarah has been hospitalised at Murewa Hospital with some health complications which are usually common in HIV children with severe immunodeficiency. This will derail and slow down her road to recovery. The mother is continuously in tears, not sure whether her child would recover from the illness but for Sarah even though in pain and her tender age; she is looking forward to be discharged from the hospital so that she can be able to go to school once again.
Sarah’s story is one of the many stories of Children Living with HIV in different communities where late HIV diagnosis and initiation on ART has negatively impacted on the lives of children living with HIV. These calls for the following:
- channelling resources by government and other bilateral partners in the rural health facilities for early infant testing and HIV treatment
- Raise awareness at family and community levels through advocacy and social mobilization on importance of early HIV diagnosis and treatment in children
- Strengthening of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission thereby completely eradicating chances of vertical transmission.
- Equitable, affordable and comprehensive HIV services for children especially in the resource constraint communities.
Although there is a growing recognition that stepping up efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission would decrease the need for paedriatic treatment, it is likely that HIV will continue to infect many thousand of children in Zimbabwe for years to come. Given this situation, testing and treatment facilities for children need to be improved and made widely available in the rural health facilities. This will enhance the lives of children living with HIV through access to treatment and in the process helping to reach the goal towards Universal Access on ART.
Rozaria Memorial Trust acknowledges that achievement in this regard would significantly increase the number of lives that can be saved by early initiation of treatment for HIV positive infants and children.
By Kudakwashe Dizha, RMT Coordinator.
Murewa: 9 September 2011: On the 3rd of September, Rozaria Memorial Trust Board Members converged for a quarterly board meeting. The board meeting marked the fourth year Anniversary of the existence of RMT; it all started with consultative meeting at Magaya Primary School in Murewa in August 2007 to set forth on how to thrust Mbuya Rozaria Dizha legacy beyond her life.
The Board of Trustees expressed the need to urgently engage in initiatives that strengthens the organisation's vision with operational sustainability. They agreed upon a number of initiatives which should be pursued in the coming years in order to make this a reality. The following recommendations were unanimously agreed on:
- Establishment of a training and resource at Murewa Centre for women and children.
- Strengthening of agricultural activities to enable the generation of income for carrying out of organisation activities
- Setting out of robust and multi-year fundraising campaign to resource the work and programmes of the Trust. Continue reading