Health practitioners and caregivers are working on the ground to ensure that the scourge of HIV/AIDS is reduced in society
The ‘Reach every child and adolescent’ programme, spearheaded by Networking HIV and Aids Community of South Africa (Nacosa) in partnership with Family Health International 360 (FHI360), an organisation that focuses on human development, held a training session for caregivers who are dispatched to areas identified for intervention
FHI360 clinical liaison officer, Mandisa Sakhwe, said the mandate was to reach out to children living with HIV/Aids, orphans and vulnerable children in the Chris Hani district. She said the programme was implemented in five municipalities including Engcobo, Sakhisizwe, Intsika Yethu, Enoch Mgijima and Emalahleni where these municipalities had been highlighted as having high rates of HIV/Aids by the national organisation.
“We have noticed with concern that most children from 0-17 years do not know their status and are living with the virus. We should render services tailored for them, especially in far-flung areas. There is a whole lot of psycho-social intervention that is crucial to the community,” said Sakhwe
“We visit health facilities to enrol children in the programme. We have caregivers who track down orphans and vulnerable children dispatched to the communities. There are many of them in this district. Some of the homes we visit are headed by these children and that is where we chip in to help the families. The caregivers also offer economic strengthening, encourage family planning and provide health education, at the same time identifying families in need. After being identified as eligible for our programme we refer them to the appropriate agencies to start treatment immediately.”
Sakhwe said they had a “95, 95, 95 target” which was a strategy to reduce the number of cases of HIV and Aids. “The target is to have 95% of people living with HIV knowing their status; 95% of people who know their status on treatment and 95% of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads. We want them to disclose any challenges they might face with taking their treatment. The main aim is to ensure that everyone gets the services they are supposed to be.”