HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest development challenges for Namibia and is the leading cause of death among adults and the sixth leading cause among children under 5 years of age. The HIV epidemic in Namibia has generated a large population of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Namibia also has the fifth highest tuberculosis (TB) incidence worldwide (WHO 2013), and TB/HIV co-infection is high.
In response, in 2016 Project HOPE began a three-year Namibia TB/HIV Collaboration Program which works to integrate TB/HIV collaborative activities into existing community-based programs while also leveraging advancements in TB diagnostics.
In 2013, Project HOPE began the five-year Namibia Adherence and Retention project (NARP) which is funded by PEPFAR through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen adherence and retention to HIV care and treatment (including prevention of mother to child transmission), and to mitigate the impact of HIV on people living with HIV and those affected (OVC and caregivers). The project covers 14 health districts in eight regions. NARP provides community based HIV prevention, care and treatment support services in line with global UNAIDS goals.
Project HOPE began strengthening health care services and providing health education in Namibia in 2002 while implementing HIV/AIDS workplace education programs. HOPE’s programs have since grown to include TB treatment and education, strengthening the coping capacities of households and communities caring for OVC, working to prevent HIV/AIDS among young women and village health banks.
In 2005 HOPE implemented a program to address the increased economic needs of OVC households by providing economic strengthening opportunities, micro-credit loans or savings groups, along with health and parenting education. Project HOPE developed an OVC-targeted educational curriculum for caregivers, which addressed essential OVC care and support. In 2008 Project HOPE expanded on the program to specifically target OVC households headed by elderly women or older orphans themselves.
Also in 2008 HOPE began working to prevent the spread of HIV in selected regions of Namibia by providing economic opportunities and health education to young women. The program provided micro-credit loans to young women to prevent their engagement in cross-generational or transactional sex and also included a curriculum covering HIV/AIDS prevention.
That same year HOPE started a program to support community efforts to implement a comprehensive TB control strategy, improve detection, decrease treatment failure rates and decrease the overall TB burden in two regions of Northern Namibia. Through the community-based approach, Project HOPE is working to strengthen the links between the community members, TB patients, clinics and hospitals.
Project HOPE’s TB experts are among the thousands of delegates from around the globe gathering at the annual Union World Lung Conference on Lung Health, this year held in Guadalajara, Mexico.
When Martha Ziezo, a community home based care provider, met Wabei, she found a woman who felt helpless and stigmatized.