Partnerships to Ensure No Child in Zambia Has AIDS
The street outside of Corpmed Medical Clinic in Lusaka, Zambia is very busy -- there is a lot to see. Cars and motor bikes are zipping by at lightning speed, children in uniforms are making a mad dash to school, and women dressed in boldly colored traditional clothing are walking hurriedly to work, the market, or clinic.
Inside the clinic, there is a temporary reprieve from the busy sights outside. After a short walk down a narrow corridor and around the corner to an open courtyard, my senses are again heightened, but it’s not the eyes that compete to be the dominant sense, it’s the ears.
Children are laughing and playing while their mothers chat. And under a canopy (tent with no walls), next to a booming generator, 23-year-old Lonely Tatila is speaking with a patient.
“I tell them adherence is the most important thing,” he says. “You have to take your medications and come to your appointments. I am able to speak six different languages and can communicate with just about everyone who comes here.”
Tatila is an HIV/AIDS counselor for Tiny Tim and Friends (TTF), Lusaka’s only dedicated pediatric HIV/AIDS organization working with vulnerable children and orphans. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) partners with TTF to provide trainings and mentorship services for TTF counselors.
“Our medical team visits the [TTF] staff to provide guidance and support,” said Martin Phiri, EGPAF-Zambia project manager of child and adolescent development. “It helps us as employees of EGPAF to reach clients on the ground by working in partnership with TTF.”
TTF works in Lusaka’s most vulnerable areas where there is limited access to medical care. One of those places is Chibolya, one of Lusaka’s oldest townships and one of the most precarious.
“No one wants to go there because it’s so unsafe, the police don’t even go there,” said Sarah Eldon, TTF director of programs and operations.
However, TTF does go there and thanks to training received from EFPAF staff, they can provide testing and counseling to many of the residents. Eldon says when TTF does outreach the HIV- positive test results are normally in the 5 percent range, but in Chibolya that rate jumped to 20 percent.
“TTF provides medical care and case management free of charge to the most vulnerable orphans and under-served children living with HIV and AIDS,” added Eldon. “We recognize that high-quality medical care and personalized antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence plans can empower patients to proactively seek the medical and social assistance they need, and thus prolong their lives and reduce the transmission of HIV in Zambia.”
Zambia has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world--currently 14 percent of its population or 1.1 million people are living with HIV, including more than 160,000 children younger than 14. Successful partnerships like those between EGPAF and TTF are ensuring that more people are receiving HIV testing, counseling, and treatment and helping to end the threat of AIDS to Zambian children.