EGPAF in Mozambique Implements Communication Campaign to End AIDS

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in Mozambique is implementing the Accelerating Children Treatment (ACT) initiative in priority districts in the country’s Gaza province.

Initiated last year, ACT (thanks to funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)), is aiming to double the number of children receiving lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) across 10 priority African countries.

ACT includes community mobilization activities to promote the benefits of care and treatment in children, testing of children in trials and pediatric wards, and provision of care and treatment.

In addition, ACT integrates domiciliary visits to promote care and treatment adherence for pregnant women, infants and children with HIV.

Through ACT, EGPAF in Mozambique, launched a campaign specifically geared toward expanding HIV treatment for mothers and children called, “Mais Esperança para Criança”, which means, “More Hope for Children”.

More than 900 people were tested for HIV in Mozambique’s Gaza province during this campaign to sensitize community members and to increase people’s knowledge of their HIV status.

The campaign targeted heterogeneous groups -- namely, woman of childbearing age, pregnant women and infants, caregivers of children, and community leaders working to eliminate AIDS. The campaign lastly nearly two months and disseminated key-messages about the importance of testing, treatment, and adherence to HIV treatment.

Testing for HIV, malaria and blood pressure was provided. Additionally, the campaign demonstrated the importance of visiting health facilities by pregnant women and theirs partners.

Because EGPAF provides health services for mostly underserved and illiterate people, a communication campaign using theater exhibitions and roadshows was employed.
To help draw attention and support for the event, a popular Mozambique artist, Mr. Bow, produced and launched a song for EGPAF, titled “Yendla Xikambelo” which means “Testing for HIV” in English. The song relays the story of Mozambicans, who avoid visiting health facilities, because of fear of knowing the HIV result. The song encourages listeners to visit health facilities.

Additionally, the US Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) hired the Clarisse Machanguana, a former basketball athlete, to help promote HIV awareness among adolescents in schools and at community events as a part of ACT. Her part of the campaign was entitled “Saber é Viver”, which means “Knowing is Living”.

According to EGPAF-Mozambique’s Senior Technical Advisor for Psychosocial Support & Community Program, Carlos Mahumane, the campaign was a challenge for the organization because it was meant to focus on specific and sensitive groups, including children who have little understanding of health or diseases. Key messages were sensitized first through parents and caregivers, in turn helping them to better reach their children. Mahumane believes that the campaign was a success.

Mahumane noted that in terms of testing results, adherence and contribution of public during roadshows and theatre exhibitions, which had 700 – 1,500 people at each event, research collected during the campaign discovered that people understood the objectives of ACT and how they can implement them in their own lives.

“We cannot continue to conduct business as usual if we want to end the AIDS epidemic,” said Charles Lyons, EGPAF president and CEO, “Children can’t be treated as miniature adults—they require medicines, care, and support that are age-appropriate and effective for their specific needs.”

EGPAF Mozambique hopes to continue implementing the ACT initiative through merchandising materials, with careful language and good tools. ACT has proven to be a sound strategy to end new HIV infection in Gaza province and Mozambique, and is particularly a critical strep toward ending AIDS in children.