Working for an HIV-free generation, one decision at a time
By Bella DiFilippo*
KITWE, Zambia—Miriam was three months pregnant when she was diagnosed with HIV. A local health clinic directed her to Bwafwano Care Providers to receive consistent counseling, nutritional support, and antiretroviral medication. Community health workers from Bwafwano Care Providers visited Miriam and through consistent follow-up, she gave birth to a healthy baby. Today, Miriam’s two children, ages three and four, are both HIV-free.
Grateful for Bwafwano Care Providers, Miriam now serves as a community health worker, sharing her story with other HIV-positive pregnant mothers as an advocate for health.
On one of their weekly visits to their clients, community health workers from Bwafwano Care Providers walk through Wusakile, a local community in Kitwe, Zambia. COURTESY OF BWAFWANO CARE PROVIDERS
Preventing HIV in Zambia
More than 1 million people in Zambia are living with HIV. Many received the virus through mother-to-child transmission. Among the leading causes of infection, mother-to-child transmission can be prevented. The Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) initiative provides drugs, counseling, and psychological support for mothers through their pregnancy, labor, delivery, and breastfeeding.
Through Global Ministries’ funding support, Bwafwano Care Providers carries out PMTCT projects and supports training workshops for community health workers. These projects focus in two high-risk neighborhoods here. Since the program started, more than 400 mothers have accessed preventative treatment services through visits from community health workers, who play a vital role in sharing health information within their communities.
After a drama program performed by Bwafwano Care Provider’s community health workers, one of the community health workers emphasizes the importance of PMTCT. COURTESY OF BWAFWANO CARE PROVIDERS
Creating an opportunity for an HIV-free generation
Sharing personal stories and health information dispels myths about HIV and reduces stigma.
Bwafwano Care Providers ensures a diversity of partners involved in community health worker training. Many workshop participants are church clergy, health professionals, and government employees. “We believe and understand that if we are to create an opportunity for an HIV-free generation, it will take everyone,” said Esther Chansa Kalichi, senior field officer for Bwafwano Care Providers.
Bwafwano Care Providers staff, Global Mission Fellows and students living with physical and mental challenges post for a group photo during a workshop on Activism against Gender Based Violence. COURTESY OF BWAFWANO CARE PROVIDERS
Be the reason the next generation smiles
“Words cannot speak enough to how grateful we are for the critical support that we have received from Global Ministries,” said Peter T. Muzarakuza, a field officer and global missions fellow. “Since our inception as a local NGO (nongovernmental organization), we have always sought to make an orphan smile. But today we even have this opportunity to make the next generation smile because they are an HIV-free generation.”
Mothers like Miriam and their children have hope, thanks to Bwafwano Care Providers and funding support from Global Ministries.
Global Ministries is committed to The United Methodist Church’s Abundant Health initiative to create abundant health for all. Show your support for Abundant Health projects, like Bwafwano Care Providers’ PMTCT program. Give to give to Advance #3021770.
To support the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, donate to Advance #982345.
*Bella DiFilippo is a communication specialist in Mission Engagement for Global Ministries.