South African Red Cross Society KZN implemented its Integrated HIV and Tuberculosis Program during 2007, reaching out to clients infected and affected by HIV and Tuberculosis. These clients with our support have been given a new lease on life.
KwaZulu Natal’s Intergrated HIV and TB Program has over 1500 Volunteers and 198 Staff taking care of over 40 000 adults, orphans and vulnerable children infected and affected by HIV and TB. This care consists of home-based care, assistance with grant application, treatment adherence, provision of food parcels and establishment of support groups.
PREVENTION OF MOTHER TO CHILD TRANSMISSION (PMTCT)
Red Cross staff and volunteers work with pregnant women and encourage them to find out their HIV status and help to prevent the transmission of HIV to their unborn child. Pregnancy and childbirth are generally times of joy for parents and families but in many communities, pregnancy comes with risks to health and survival of women and new-borns. Lack of education, inadequate and limited access to basic health care services are some of the reasons why diseases are transmitted to new-borns. The continuum of care emphasizes that a woman’s capacity to sustain her own health and life, and that of her child, during pregnancy and childbirth begins with education, information skills, care and protection received from early adolescent stages.
The empowerment of girls and women have a direct impact on maternal and child health. Education in particular, in most communities lowered the exposure of girls and women to maternity risks. In addition to delaying pregnancy, intervention showed that educated mothers immunized their children, were better informed about nutrition and used improved anti natal classes. Home visit involves common interventions such as exclusive breastfeeding, hand washing with soap, advice on measures to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV and diarrhoea treatment. This reduces morbidity and mortality in children under five years of age.
ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN (OVC)
In KwaZulu Natal, due to the high levels of HIV, many children are left orphaned. Red Cross volunteers work with these vulnerable children to help them prepare for a better future. The programme provides psychosocial support and counselling to OVC to help them understand and cope with the death of their parents. This includes helping them to create memory boxes, filled with objects, written stories and other items that remind them off their parents. This can help children to overcome their difficulties of coping with bereavement at such a young age.
Children are also given practical support such as school uniforms, food parcels and help with accessing social welfare grants and inheritances. Red Cross volunteers work with teachers to ensure that children living with HIV are given the support they need and that they adhere to their HIV treatment plans. Regular support groups are held, where children can socialise, play and learn about protection from HIV. The activities are varied and tailored to the needs of the children.
OPERATION SUKUMA SAKHE (OSS)
Sukuma Sakhe is a Zulu phrase that means stand up and build. Operation Sukuma Sakhe is a platform used by Red Cross staff and volunteers to address major community issues with Government officials. The issues raised at OSS range from social issues to health and care issues. OSS is a forum established by Government to enhance service delivery. All major or longstanding community issues are addressed at OSS by Red Cross staff and volunteers to Government officials who in turn resolve or find a way forward to resolve the issue at hand.