HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT)
HIV testing is critical in determining the HIV status of at-risk people. The TMZ Foundation, in collaboration with the Department of Health and the Right to Care Campaign, plans to increase funding for HCT services, especially in rural areas, with more mobile units that can screen not just for HIV, but also for Tuberculosis and overall health and wellness.
Prevention of new infections among youth and women
South Africa is grappling with intolerable levels of violence against women, which is contributing to increased risks for HIV infection. To tackle this, we are collaborating with Universities across South Africa to address behavioural issues that fuel the epidemic among today’s young generation.
The TMZ Foundation and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal conducted a Health Wellness Day, where HCT, Condom distribution and a discussion about discrimination was held.
We also provide ongoing mentorship services to encourage young women to stay in school to maximize their chances for economic success, as well as promoting youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services to prevent teenage pregnancies.
Other HIV Prevention Initiatives aimed at youth include:
- Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC)
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PreP)
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- STI Education and Screening
Elimination of Mother-To-Child Transmission (EMTCT)
Despite encouraging early results of more pregnant women enrolling into the Government’s Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) programme, the Foundation recognises the need to continue to improve access to maternal treatment and escalate early infant diagnosis in rural areas. This will be achieved by funding the purchase of more diagnostic testing machines to ensure early diagnosis of new born babies, especially in rural areas and investing in the training of more front-line healthcare providers, who can administer the ART regimens needed for infected mothers and infants.
Education will also be key to the long-term success of the programme and the Foundation will offer pregnant rural women education on MTCT, as well as pre-natal classes with educational emphasis on breastfeeding, immunization, post natal check-ups and dietary issues.
Treatment, Care and Support Programmes
The Foundation has launched various treatment, care and support programmes to help improve education, treatment and prevention of AIDs and HIV in different communities. These programmes include:
- Community Healthcare Workers Program
- Pediatric HIV Education, Treatment, Support and Care Programmes
- Stigma and discrimination Education
- Adolescent AIDS (All In campaign)
- Maternal and Child Health Programmes
- Programmes in the framework of CARMMA Adolescent SRHR
Community Health Workers Program
An acute shortage of care givers and trained professionals to deal with the overwhelming numbers of HIV sufferers is a major concern. The Foundation will thus begin rolling out a pioneer Community Health Workers program, which will train 9,000 individuals per year, for a period of 3 years, in two Provinces. The training will focus on medical, laboratory and nursing skills.
Pediatric HIV Education, Treatment, Support and Care Programs
In South Africa over 150,000 children under the age 15 years are enrolled onto ART program, with about 30,000 new children initiated on ART each year. The new guidelines for ART initiation have ensured early diagnosis for children, and the country now provides ART for all children under 5 years, regardless of their CD4 cell count or clinical staging and no longer uses viral load as part of baseline assessment for ART initiation in children.
While these results have been encouraging, timely access to treatment, support and care for HIV infected infants remains a challenge, especially in rural areas. These challenges include: limited health care centres; limited skilled personnel to deliver pediatric ART; and the lack of transport services for mothers and their children to even reach medical centres.
The Foundation plans on scaling up EMTCT in rural areas by combining pediatric HIV treatment with EMTCT education. The Foundation is securing funds that will allow rural clinics to provide more and better services for HIV infected infants and young children. New equipment will be purchased, training for community health workers will be delivered and the development of a comprehensive education program for schools and patients will be implemented.
Stigma and discrimination Education
Conquering stigma is vital in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Stigma prevents people from seeking treatment and staying on treatment. The First Lady recognizes that only open and honest dialogue about sexual behavior and HIV will assist in fighting stigma and discrimination.
The TMZ Foundation has thus partnered with the University of KwaZulu Natal as part of a Sensitisation and Transformation campaign aimed at university students. The aim is to promote non-discrimination, sexual rights and gender equality in relationships. This was the first open dialogue initiative that the Foundation has been involved with.
Adolescent AIDS (All In campaign)
Ending adolescent AIDS requires scaling up of HIV testing and to raise awareness of the need to screen and test. The TMZ Foundation has collaborated with the University of KwaZulu Natal to conduct a day-long event where HIV testing, TB Screening, and Health awareness education was offered to all students and the surrounding communities. This event is the start of an initiative that the Foundation plans to conduct at different Universities across the country.
The Foundation also plans to start a dialogue with adolescents that aims to engage them on issues such as gender equality, substance abuse, sexuality and gender-based violence. The aim is to encourage open communication and to give young people a platform where their voices are heard and their questions answered.
The Foundation also launched a new Youth empowerment program within the Framework of the Forum on China-Africa (FOCAC) Cooperation. This is a cultural exchange program where South African HIV adolescents participated in a summer youth camp in China (scheduled for June 2016). Through cultural interactions and exchange, the students learnt about adopting a healthy lifestyle, the importance of early cancer and TB screening, and tools to safeguard them from diseases.
Maternal and Child Health Programs
Reducing maternal mortality and ensuring the delivery of healthy babies, requires healthy mothers. Women, especially those in rural communities, are often neglected in the promotion of healthy lifestyle initiatives, which has led the Foundation to launch an HIV and AIDS education project, targeted at pregnant women. This program aims to ensure women have access to clinics and family planning services, as well as education on infant feeding, the importance of vaccinations for new born babies and attending post-natal follow up checks for both mother and child.
The Foundation is also acutely aware that a shortage of trained, qualified healthcare workers is hindering progress in maternal and child health initiatives, which is why the Foundation is planning a major campaign to provide training (short, formal courses) and to increase the number of community health workers across the country.
Community health workers serve the communities in which they live and are vital, especially for those who are unable to reach clinics or where there is a chronic lack of nurses and doctors.
Programs in the framework of CARMMA Adolescent SRHR
South Africa’s Department of Social Development launched a National SRHR Strategy Framework that highlighted the gaps that exist in the promotion of young peoples’ sexual and reproductive health rights. The Foundation has collaborated with the University of Natal, with plans to target other Universities, to start dialogues with young people about their sexual and reproductive health rights. The Foundation’s plan is not only directed at University students, but also the surrounding communities, especially in the countryside where there are cultural misunderstandings and practices that impact on human rights.
The Foundation is also collaborating with the Jes Foord Foundation (rape activist) in an awareness project that speaks out against rape and assisting rape survivors.