The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has launched a healthcare project that will mobilize South African communities to promote HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis education, testing and treatment.
HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain a huge challenge in South Africa, where there are currently 5.6 million people living with HIV, according to UNAIDS statistics. The number of people diagnosed with tuberculosis, which is the most common infection for people living with HIV, increased from 109,000 in 1996 to 400,000 in 2007.
PWRDF will contribute $500,000 over five years towards the $2 million project, and the remainder will come from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). PWRDF is the relief and development arm of the Anglican Church of Canada; CIDA administers the foreign aid of the Canadian federal government.
The project, to be implemented by PWRDF’s local partner, Keiskamma Trust, will train 25 village health workers to run education programs about how to prevent HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and how to care for those already infected by these diseases.
It will concentrate in the Ngqushwa district of Eastern Cape, South Africa, [population: 84,230], where HIV infection rate is 17.5%, and a “staggering 33 to 45%” affects pregnant women, said PWDF executive director Adele Finney. “Those who are HIV positive in the region are at greater risk of contracting TB. The project will therefore encourage HIV and TB testing, especially among child- bearing women and their partners.” The programs, which will reach about 30,000 people in the region, are designed to be family-centred in order to improve survival rates for both mothers and their infants and children, added Finney. UNAIDS data show that about 50% of maternal deaths and 40% of under-five deaths in South Africa are due to HIV infection.
The program is projected to increase access to anti-retroviral drugs among children under 16 by 43%.