MWENEZI -The battle against societal misconceptions about children living with HIV/Aids has, through robust patient participatory capacity building mechanisms, become a cornerstone that is yielding positive results in Mwenezi.
Courtesy of funding from the United States Aid for International Development (USAID), the Mwenezi based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Africaid, is spearheading the Zvandiri (accept me as I am) programme targeting children, adolescents and young people living with HIV/Aids below the age of 24.
With the backing of other stakeholders who include the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and the National Aids Council (Nac), Africaid is currently supporting 1 860 children and adolescents from which over 50 have received Community Adolescent Treatment Support (CATS) training.
Working closely with nurses in their respective areas, the trained CATS operate from various clinics around the district, regularly providing various forms of support initiatives, especially monitoring their patient peers’ effective adherence to HIV treatment.
Africaid district mentor Lloyd Moyo told TellZim News that the Zvandiri programme has so far managed to ensure that the trained CATS were deployed to all the clinics around the district where they provide support for effective delivery of HIV and adherence support for children.
"From a total of 1 860 children and adolescents whom we are currently supporting, we have 54 CATS whom we had trained so far.
“They are operating from various clinics around the district. Together with Nac, we also trained 15 CATS and this coming October we are going to train 37 more CATS," said Moyo.
One of the trained CATS said the program is proving to be of great value to them and their peers.
"Although we regularly work from the clinic, we at times make home visits especially to those children whom we would have identified through clinic records to have defaulted their medication.
“We also make visits to our peers, identifying some of their challenges and forwarding them to patrons for assistance.
“We regularly educate them to be stress free and to strictly adhere to their treatment. Key among adherence concepts being to take the rightful quantity of medication at the exact stipulated time," he said.
A senior nurse who is based at Neshuro District Hospital and closely works with the CATS said that the programme is helping children embrace their conditions and creating a friendly environment for the infected children and adolescents to take up their medication.
"Children should strictly adhere to treatment so that by the time of their retest which is supposed to be conducted after 12 months they would be on Target Not Detected (TND)
“Here in Mwenezi your find out that 60% of children and adolescents are on TND stage.
“Such positive statistics are undoubtedly as a result of the concerted efforts of such stakeholders as Nac and Africaid's Zvandiri programmme," she said.
NAC Masvingo provincial coordinator Agrippa Zizhou acknowledged the critical role that is being played by CATS in ensuring effective delivery of HIV treatment and support for children.