With funding from the Egmont Trust UK, LICO is implementing a project on increasing uptake of prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT) services through community-based approaches in Mwazisi community, in Rumphi district. The Project is given a local name titled “Kajikhomere” meaning self-sustaining.
The project is building the capacity of communities on PMTCT and prevention of new HIV transmission resulting to service demand creation, and increased access to and uptake of PMTCT services among women living with HIV. The project works with the communities and health facilities to have a better understanding on supporting women and children living with HIV with care, treatment and psychosocial services. Another key component in this project is male involvement in the antenatal care services.
Through the community-based approaches, the project is establishing community male and female study circle groups in order to enhance PMTCT knowledge coverage among community members. Volunteers are being trained as study circle leaders. Apart from the knowledge sharing, the study circles are also empowered with various small-scale agri-business initiatives. The project also works with community leaders to formulate community by-laws on safe motherhood in order to track down various forms of gender-based violence, child abuse and male involvement.
In working with adolescents, the project uses teen club model to address local challenges and realities adolescents and young people on ART are facing. The teen club is a group of young people aged 10-24 years living with HIV enrolled at a health facility. Key services delivered at teen club include regular check-ins at clinics, viral load testing and antiretroviral therapy (ART) refills managed on site, and health education. These regular check-ins allow children and youth to engage with peers to dispel stigma. Issues around loss to follow ups, disclosure and adherence to ART among adolescents on ART are also addressed. The project also provides support and guidance for caregivers of children and adolescents living with HIV, particularly for disclosure and retention in care through counselling sessions. ART defaulters follow ups and supporting children and adolescents living with HIV to remain on care are intensified.
LICO has been championing PMTCT (male involvement, teen clubs, safe-motherhood by-laws and study circles) working with 5 teen clubs, namely; Mwazisi, Mzokoto, Mhuju, Ng’onga, Mphompha and Bolero. Through the PMTCT initiative, LICO has trained over 120 community volunteers and 200 study circle groups have been established in the communities.
Through the initiative, in 2014 LICO won the prestigious global UNAIDS Red Ribbon Award in Melbourne, Australia.