Campaign update: April-May 2006
The Unite for Children Unite against AIDS campaign was launched in Mozambique in November 2005. Following the launch event, significant progress has been made in the four programmatic areas (Four Ps) of the campaign as a result of partners working together.
Prevention among adolescents and young people
Operationalisation of the national HIV/AIDS communication strategy to scale up prevention activities and defining priority communication objectives for 2006/2007 was the aim of a meeting convened in Maputo by the National AIDS Council (NAC) in May. Over fifty people from organisations working in communication, government ministries, academic institutions, civil society organisations, UN agencies and bilateral partners came together to discuss the strategy using a methodology that encouraged participation and enabled participants to identify communication areas that need to be strengthened. The next steps in progress include the setting up of a communication technical group which will support the NAC with national coordination as well as and monitor and evaluate current and future communication interventions. Partners will also work with NAC to develop a national communication campaign focused on younger children who constitute the “Window of Hope”.
Maximising HIV prevention interventions for children in schools is the premise for a national workshop which will bring together associations of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and all Provincial Directorates of Education in Maputo in July. PLWHA associations develop HIV awareness programmes with children in schools and promote activities to help break stigma and discrimination surrounding the virus. Approximately 200,000 children from 250 schools have been reached through these activities and 250 youth clubs have been created. The workshop aims to better integrate the work of the PLWHA with the HIV prevention programme developed by the Ministry of Education and Culture in primary schools. It is envisaged that this will lead to the associations coordinating their activities with the Ministry of Education and Culture programme for greater impact and will encourage use of the same educational materials in schools.
Prevention of mother-to-child transmission
A draft paper on accelerating Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) services, which was discussed informally with the Vice-Minister of Health, the Special Advisor for the Ministry of Health, WHO and UNICEF was well received. Discussions on the need to revive and accelerate the momentum of PMTCT and convene a PMTCT taskforce meeting have been held with the new Ministry of Health director for community health, who is very committed to addressing PMTCT. The UN HIV/AIDS Working Group and the PMTCT Task Force will work jointly to reinvigorate efforts to accelerate PMTCT services.
To date, 146 health staff have received PMTCT training and six health facilities in Gaza, Inhambane, Cabo Delgado and Manica have been renovated. Two new PMTCT sites have been opened in Chicumbane and Chalucuane in Gaza Province.
Up to now, 34 health workers have been trained at the paediatric day hospital in Maputo. This year’s training has included the entire teams (paediatricians, doctors, nurses, social workers and pharmacists) from the day hospitals in the provincial capitals of Gaza, Tete, Zambézia, Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa. This first round of training was funded by the Clinton Foundation and the second round, currently being planned and starting in July, will be funded by UNICEF and will include the teams from other day hospitals in the districts. There are now 48 day hospitals but only 24 are treating small children with ARV syrups. The priority will be to train the teams from the 24 hospitals not treating children, so that the number of day hospitals providing treatment increases to 100%. This scale up will improve the chance of meeting the targets set for paediatric treatment. Plans for scale up include an increase in physical space and equipment at the hospitals. The details for all sites are still being finalised by NGO partners and the Provincial Health Directorates.
During May, a programme to distribute a high-energy, fortified nutritional supplement called Plumpy Nut to malnourished HIV-positive children was initiated. Up to 2,400 children will be enrolled at the day hospitals in Maputo, Xai-Xai, Beira and Tete, and may be extended to Cabo Delgado. Data on the impact (health and nutrition status) will be collected, with the aim of using the results to convince the Ministry of Health and partners to include the intervention as a standard part of paediatric treatment services. The use of Plumpy Nut is also being tested, in collaboration with Medecins Sans Frontieres as a replacement food for HIV exposed infants aged 6-12 months in Tete and Maputo provinces.
Helping children living with HIV build their self-esteem, as well as having fun is the mission of Arte Positiva. This group of local artists use art as a form of therapy to help children living with HIV express themselves. A pilot phase was implemented in early March at the paediatric day hospital. It is envisaged that the project will continue beyond this pilot phase and it is also hoped that other sites may implement similar projects.
Protection and support for children affected by HIV/AIDS
In May, the Ministry of Women and Social Action and partners came together to work towards strengthening the coordination of interventions in the national response to orphaned and vulnerable children. Government institutions, civil society organisations, bilateral partners and UN agencies agreed on the importance of maintaining momentum for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children in the context of the Action Plan for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children and the need to coordinate the implementation of the plan. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss findings from the National Situation Analysis on Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, and review the linkages between the Action Plan for OVC and the National Action Plan for Children.
The contents of a basic package of materials for the most vulnerable children have been finalised. During the first year of the project the basic package of materials will be delivered to 500 households (2,500 children). Crucial materials to be provided include basic household items, hygiene products, water purification kits, school uniform and materials and mosquito nets. The Provincial Directorate of the Ministry of Women and Social Action will act as the recipient of the packages and its distribution will be done by both the National Institute of Social Action and civil society non-governmental partners. The initial provinces to test out this approach will be Tete and Sofala where the government social protection programme is being refined as a pilot project. In order to maximise the effectiveness of the emergency assistance, the delivery of this basic package will be linked to existing social support systems and other basic services available in areas reached.