Program in Malawi Seeks to Prevent New Infections and Lessen Impact of HIV
One Community targets specific populations that are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV: orphans and vulnerable children, the caregivers of those children, adolescent girls and young women, estate workers, fishing communities, and people living with HIV.
Project HOPE, the global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, has received a $12 million grant to implement a portion of One Community, a new activity in Malawi aimed at mitigating the impact of HIV and preventing new infections. Funded by PEPFAR through the USAID Mission in Malawi as the primary grantee, One Community targets specific populations that are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV: orphans and vulnerable children, the caregivers of those children, adolescent girls and young women, estate workers, fishing communities, and people living with HIV.
HIV and AIDS are very serious challenges in Malawi. According to the Malawi 2015 Spectrum estimate, nearly 1 million people in Malawi are infected and living with HIV, more than 125,000 of whom are children under the age of 15. According to Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 2010, Malawi has an estimated incidence of 34,000 new infections and more than 29,000 HIV-related deaths each year. A high proportion of the prevalence of HIV infections is in the South and Central districts of Malawi.
In Malawi, more than 50% of the population is 18 years old or younger, and more than 16% of those children and adolescents are orphans or otherwise vulnerable. Nearly 1 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Adolescents living with HIV face difficulties in accessing HIV care services. Orphans and those caring for them face distinct challenges as these children are less likely to access health care, less likely to remain in school and are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
One Community will work closely with communities to improve their ability to achieve the 90/90/90 global HIV targets (90% of Malawians living with HIV will know their status/ 90% of all those diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral treatment (ART)/90% of all people receiving ART will have viral suppression) to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
“Because human resources and infrastructures for health care in Malawi are limited, community-based platforms will be key to addressing the critical challenges in the national HIV and AIDS response,” said Endalkachew Melese, Project HOPE’s Senior Technical Advisor for One Community. “One Community will play a leading role in building and strengthening such platforms in eight high-burden districts of Malawi.”
Project HOPE’s specific responsibilities in One Community are to work with local community organizations to identify, hire and train more than 200 Community Engagement Facilitators and more than 2,000 volunteers who will interact directly with beneficiaries to improve the utilization of high-quality HIV prevention, care, support and mitigation services among the targeted populations. Supervisory and monitoring visits will be conducted to ensure the activities are being implemented correctly. Project HOPE will also work to strengthen the capacity of Malawi’s own institutions to lead, coordinate and implement community-based HIV prevention, care and impact mitigation responses.
The five-year activity, which began in December 2015, will be implemented in eight districts of Malawi: Blantyre, Balaka, Chikwawa, Machinga, Mulanje, Mangochi, Phalombe, and Zomba. Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs is the lead organization executing One Community, while Plan International and Project HOPE are implementing portions of the program as sub-grantees.
Project HOPE has been working in Malawi since 1989 on a variety of health programs, primarily in the areas of HIV and AIDS and Tuberculosis. Elsewhere in Africa, Project HOPE currently conducts programs in Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Egypt and Tanzania.
About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health problems with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS Hope, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now provides medical training and health education, as well as conducts humanitarian assistance programs in more than 35 countries. Visit our website projecthope.org or follow us on Twitter @projecthopeorg.