New project to support patients with HIV and their families in Zimbabwe

Categories: Care.

The Collaborate Project will focus on people living with and affected by HIV in two regions of Goromonzi District in the southern African country, a predominately rural area with limited infrastructure which is located east of the capital Harare.

People living with HIV can experience physical pain, as well as high levels of depression, anxiety and isolation. The project will adopt the holistic approach widely used in palliative care and provide personalised, comprehensive support for people with HIV and their families. As well as treating patients’ physical symptoms through pain relief, it will also support their emotional, spiritual and social needs, as well as those of their families, including bereaved children. 

The project, which is managed by Help the Hospices, will be led by the Island Hospice and Bereavement Service (IHS) – the largest provider of palliative care in Zimbabwe – working with stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. 

It has been developed and designed in direct response to needs identified by local communities in Goromonzi District. They include: improved quality of life for people living with and affected by HIV, namely pain relief and improved psychosocial wellbeing, and a reduction in experiences of isolation and anxiety in bereaved children, including young carers of relatives with HIV.

The key activities of the project, which begins in October, will include:

  • training and mentoring 30 healthcare workers and 200 volunteers from the community to deliver palliative care services in people’s homes
  • delivering HIV palliative care and support to 640 people living with HIV and reaching over 5,000 family members in the community
  • providing psychosocial support to 800 bereaved and affected children through a proven workshop programme
  • delivering workshops for 60 young carers and linking them up with community home-based-care teams who can provide emotional and practical support.

Kate North, international programmes manager at Help the Hospices, said: “We are delighted to have secured funding for this important project which will help improve the lives of people with HIV in Zimbabwe and also their families, especially children and young people.

“We believe that everyone living with a life-limiting illness has the right to quality, affordable care. Sadly, less than a tenth of people across the world who need palliative care are actually able to access this. 

“As well as providing palliative care, this project will also have a strong focus on training, to help empower the people it supports to have more influence over their healthcare and also deliver a lasting legacy for the future.”

Help the Hospices has run an international programme supporting the development of hospice and palliative care for the past 10 years. It currently has three projects in India and Africa, working closely with partner organisations on the ground to improve access to palliative care. They include a project with the African Palliative Care Organisation to improve access to morphine for people living with HIV and supporting more people in Sierra Leone to receive hospice care in their own homes.

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