FACT is rolling out a project funded by The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund (Tearfund) Netherlands entitled “Strengthening churches’ capacity for effective support, HIV prevention and sexual reproductive health among vulnerable groups (women, girls, people with disabilities, people living with HIV and youths) in Bikita and Mutare rural districts of Zimbabwe”. The project has been in operation since 2011. It is being implemented in wards 20 and 24 in Bikita district of Masvingo Province and wards 16 and 17 of Mutare rural district of Manicaland Province. The major goal of the project is to improve the health status of women, girls, people with disabilities and youth living with HIV through strengthening the capacity of churches to implement effective support, HIV prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) interventions in Mutare rural and Bikita districts by 2015. The project is targeting youth living with HIV, people with disability, teenage mothers, church and traditional leaders, congregations, community facilitators and general youths. To date, 200 churches, 120 care facilitators, 3 416 community people have been reached with community sessions on the Safer sexual practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary testing and counselling and Empowerment (SAVE) approach to HIV prevention. A total of 1 200 beneficiaries were supported with livelihoods initiatives.
Four critical achievements realised on this project are:
- Formation of pastors’ fraternal (Bikita) and church coordinating teams (Mutare rural) which are spearheading community development.
- Mobilisation of locally available resources in Bikita (ward 24) as a result of trainings in the Church and Community Mobilisation Process (CCMP) approach which resulted in the construction of a waiting mothers’ shelter/home and a youth friendly centre at Dewure 1 Rural Health Centre.
- Four support groups (2 in Bikita & 2 in Mutare rural) for guardians of youth with disability have been established and church leaders have linked 20 youths with disability to other non-governmental organisations that support people with disability. The youths with disability have been supported with transport and medical fees incurred during treatment. Two of them received wheelchairs, three got walking crutches and one got an artificial leg. In Mutare rural seven youths with disability (5 females & 2 males) with hearing challenges were linked to NZEVE, (an organisation that works with children with hearing challenges). Currently the youths are engaged in livelihood activities like braiding, weaving and shoe-polish making to sustain their living.
- Increase in number of people accessing HIV testing and counselling even from apostolic sects that used to be averse in seeking these services.
Supported by Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe, client initiated testing and counselling is the foundation of the prevention of HIV. The goal of FACT New Start Centres in Manicaland and Mashonaland West Provinces is to improve the quality of life and reduce the incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV among susceptible groups and the general population. In 2014 FACT’s client initiated testing and counselling centres (Chinhoyi, Chipinge, Mutare & Chimanimani) recorded more than 50 000 clients who came to access testing and various counselling services. This programme targets the 15 – 49 age range. The following are the objectives of the programme:
- To provide HIV testing and counselling services to the most at risk population in urban and hard to reach areas
- To improve pregnancy planning, spacing and prevention of unintended pregnancies to women of child bearing age through provision of family planning services
- To reduce cervical cancer with early detection and treatment of women who are or have been sexually active
- To reduce psychological and medical complications to survivors of sexual abuse through counselling, collection of forensic evidence and treatment
- To strengthen integration of sexual reproductive health services and external referral and tracking of clients for post-test support services.
In Mashonaland West Province, the programme is covering all wards in Kadoma, Chegutu, Zvimba, Makonde, Hurungwe and Kariba districts. FACT’s New Start programme has made the following positive strides since it started:
- Establishment of offices for family planning, Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid and Camera (VIAC) and gender based violence
- Integration of Sexual Reproductive Health services, that is, family planning, cervical cancer screening, counselling and medical management of survivors of sexual abuse. FACT New Start Centres have become “One-stop-centres” where clients access different services under one roof, hence the demand for HIV Testing and Counselling has increased.
- Successful transition from paper based to electronic data capturing using iPads
In 2011, FACT with support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH incepted a project “Strengthening HIV prevention among youths in Manicaland and Mashonaland West Provinces” targeting young people aged 15-24 years in Mutare rural, Makonde and Zvimba districts. The goal of the project is to contribute to the reduction of high-risk behaviour among youth and to increase access to appropriate health services. To achieve maximum effect of HIV prevention and among youth, a combination of feasible and acceptable interventions is offered in selected locations. Key elements of combination prevention such as tailored behaviour change communication tools are used as entry points in the communities to create demand among youth to access SRH information and services. Central to accessing health information and for demand creation is the Join-In Circuit on HIV, Love & Sexuality (JIC), community peer education and clinic based Youth friendly Corners (YFC). In 2013 FACT took over from GIZ the coordination of the JIC in Zimbabwe.
Since November 2012 till December 2014, 1 871 girls and 1 419 boys aged 15-24 visited youth friendly corner for SRH information at Marange hospital in Manicaland Province and 3 455 girls and 3 590 boys at Alaska and Rafingora youth friendly corners in Mashonaland West Province. In the same period FACT has conducted a total of 103 JIC runs reaching to 1 703 girls and 2 006 boys in and out of school in Mutare rural (Manicaland Province) and 1 347 girls and 1 781 boys in Makonde and Zvimba districts (Mashonaland West Province).
Some critical achievements attained till December 2014 are as follows:
- HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) at mobile outreaches after JIC runs: 32% girls and 32.4% boys in Manicaland Province and 63% girls and 52.1% boys in Mashonaland West Province
- The HTC uptake by young people at Marange hospital stood at 15.8% for females and 11.9% for males whereas in Alaska and Rafingora clinics the HTC uptake was 16.3% for females and 13.8% for males.
- 3 support groups for adolescents living with HIV were established in the two provinces.
- An average of 47.65 % immediate knowledge increase after a JIC run was achieved and this was measured through pre and post tests.
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