13 Nov November 2023 Newsletter
Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. Proverbs 15:30
Nutrition and HIV/AIDS at the Mwembezhi Clinic, Zambia
The Zambian government through the Ministry of Health and its partners are working hard to provide the necessary commodities to end HIV /AIDS by 2030. In Zambia there are more than 1,190,000 people living with HIV who are on Antiretroviral therapy (ART). As of October 2023, the Mwembezhi Lutheran Mission Rural Health Centre (LMRHC) services about 892 clients currently on ART, making it the second highest in Shibuyunji Health District.
The facility also offers other services to help eradicate HIV by intensifying identification of new positives, prevention of mother to child transmission, provision of pre exposure prophylaxis/post exposure prophylaxis, cervical cancer screening, voluntary male circumcision, viral load monitoring, condom distribution, Adult/paediatric Nutritional assessment for people living with HIV and tracking of late client’s.
Even though the facility receives support from the Ministry of Health and other implementing partners in the eradication of HIV and AIDS, adult nutritional related programs is one of the areas that has not received much funding or support. As the Mwembezhi area is rural and has a high poverty/illiteracy rate, it has been bit of a challenge to implement adult nutrition related programs for People living with HIV within the catchment.
Currently the facility has over 100 clients on HIV treatment with body mass index (BMI) less than 18 which is below normal rate for an adult. This is mainly related to the non-availability of a nutritious balanced diet in their homes because of they do have the money to purchase adequate food. There is also a lack of understanding regarding the importance of having a balanced diet. Weight/height and age plays a very big role in certain ARV prescriptions and recording such high malnutrition cases hinders and slows boosting of immunity.
After the facility recorded such high numbers of adult malnutrition in many people living with HIV a staff meeting was held to discuss on how best we can help our clients and some of the interventions than can be put in place before end of 2023 December. These measures include:
1). Continuously give informed information education and communication (IEC) to not only People living with HIV but also to the community at large.
2). Lobby for more height boards and scales to be used during outreach programs so that all client’s height and weight will be assessed regularly to enable early detection of new cases.
3) To order HEPs (High Energy Proteins) an instant porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals for healthy growth, formulations are as per world food programs (WFP) guidelines from Ministry Of Health and stake holders.
4) Enforce responsibility in keeping appointments so that monitoring of our clients will be easy, and all needs met on time.
5) Revamping of the support group for people living with HIV at the facility
In conclusion, as the Zambian government continues adopting tolerated regimens and other models of care with established benefits, LMRHC Mwembezhi as a health facility and as community health care workers will continue to put in the effort to meet our patients’ expectations by providing cost effective and solutions to help maintain our client’s good health and nutritional status.
Mr. Jackson Kalekwa
Clinic officer in charge LMRHC