Family-Centered Approach (FCA)
The National Council of People Living with HIV (NACOPHA) implemented a Family-Centered Approach (FCA) initiative funded by UNICEF. This was a 6-month initiative (Oct 2021 – March 2022) implemented in two (2) selected underperforming districts councils of the Mbeya region notably Rungwe District Council (DC) and Mbeya DC that have:
- A higher proportion of HIV exposed children
- A higher proportion of undiagnosed children (Unknown status)
- A Higher proportion of CLHIV who dropped out of ART services
- Low Early infant HIV diagnosis (EID) and Pediatric HIV coverage
The aim of the FCA initiative was to complement existing programs for Children Living with HIV (CLHIV) and their caregivers to enhance identification, enrollment, retention of care, treatment and support services. The initiative was implemented using trained treatment advocates (TAs) and strengthened PLHIV clusters to deliver and monitor services at the community and facility level. The initiative closely engaged and collaborated with Regional and district authorities, TACAIDS, Ministry of Health, NACP, as well as Baylor as one among UNICEF funded implementing partners.
Family care approaches for enhanced identification, enrollment, and retention in HIV treatment and holistic care for CLHIV in two underperforming districts of Mbeya DC and Rungwe DC in the Mbeya region were tested and documented.
- Strengthened caregiver’s capacity, especially caregivers living with HIV, to support ART enrollment, retention and holistic health care for CLHIV
- Strengthened community platforms to better support CLHIV and link them to health services
- Strengthen health service capacity to plan, deliver and monitor the improved quality of HIV treatment and care for children
- Lessons learned, health outcomes in children and implementation approaches costed and documented
- Strengthen COVID-19 prevention knowledge and practices
- Oriented a total of 116 caregivers (23 Rungwe DC and 93 Mbeya DC) of CLHIV on holistic care of children in both facility and community-based services-including early identification, initiation of treatment for HIV positive children, partner and child disclosure, index solicitation, HIV testing, COVID-19 prevention as well as other childcare services. Other areas of focus included economic empowerment, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Violence Against Children (VAC) prevention and reporting as well as overcoming stigma and discrimination.
- Supported 70 religious’ leaders (Mbeya DC-28, Rungwe-42) and 20 WEOs (10 from each district) to oversee and integrate FCA interventions in their localities
- Supported the establishment of 10 children’s clubs at health facilities (5 from each council): Mbeya DC- Santilya and Inyala HC, Mbalizi, Kawetere and Simambwe dispensary and Rungwe DC-Ikuti Hospital, Kyimo, Lufingo, Ndaga, Kisa dispensaries. The clubs have helped to improve retention of CLHIV in care and treatment by combining HIV services with entertainment through sports. Through CLHIV clubs, health care workers and treatment advocates provide tailored basic HIV knowledge and psychosocial support to CLHIV including correct use of drugs, self-awareness, stigma, and discrimination reduction.
- Conducted 2 orientation sessions to 2 PLHIV clusters and empowerment group leaders from 2 councils to capacitate their involvement in project implementation in their localities. They mobilized and encouraged the participation/registration of more PLHIV and CLHIV caregivers in clusters as their community-based support system. The clusters also supported the establishment of economic empowerment groups that enhance obtaining both private and government loans and formulating strategies for the development of their own clusters.
- Adopted, printed, and disseminated IEC materials for both SBCC and COVID-19 prevention in Rungwe DC and Mbeya DC through PLHIV clusters, CLHIV caregivers, R/CHMTs offices and through CTCs (Masukulu, Kisa, Ikuti, Lufingo, Ilalabwe, Ndaga, Kyimo, Makandana, Igoma, Simambwe, Inyala, Kawetere, Lwanjiro, Mbalizi, Ifisi, and Santilya).
- Identified, deployed, and trained 60 community-based treatment advocates (TAs) on the FCA initiative for improved CLHIV care, treatment, and support services. The TAs identified new CLHIV through conducting door-to-door visits in the community, created awareness and were able to identify 121 new HIV positive children (Mbeya DC-95, Rungwe DC-26) during November 2021-April 2022 period after testing 531 children in the two project districts
- Conducted 2 orientation meetings with 21 health care workers (10 Rungwe and 11 Mbeya DC) on improving the quality of care for CLHIV including DSDM and the importance of holistic care of CLHIV.
- Identified, referred, and resolved a total 6 VAC cases (4 in Rungwe DC & 2 in Mbeya DC)