Nov 30, 2010

Social Determinants to health of children living with HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDS is one health issue that has been highly focused and advocated thus facilitating better health to people living with HIV and AIDS. With treatment playing a major role in the lives of people living with HIV, the need to focus on social determinants is found essential especially for children living with HIV and AIDS.

Some of the key conditions that affect children’s health are
  1. There are many children who are taking medicines without knowing their status and even not understanding the consequences if not adhered to treatment.
  2. There are children living in very poor conditions, not able to afford nutritious food and living in unhygienic conditions,
  3. Many children have lost one or both parents, where family income is at stake
  4. There are children who are not able to afford to access the free treatment, due to expense that has to be incurred in traveling to the hospital.
  5. There are girl children who are targeted with moralistic remarks by the community of their status
  6. There are children under the care of grandparents whose physical inability affects children’s access to health care

The list of conditions are more, so what is essential now is along with treatment, there is a need also to look at the social determinants that affect children’s health.

As we all commemorate the World AIDS Day on December 1, let us also realize importance of the social determinants to health and make ways in addressing in a holistic manner.

Nov 23, 2010

Creating awareness on child sexual abuse to help and equip children prevent abuse

53% of children in India
are sexually abused!!!

November 19th, a day dedicated to focus on children against sexual abuse has been widely advocated by various agencies across the country. In Namakkal district, Buds of Christ realised the need to create awareness among school children on the potential forms of abuse that children can be easily exposed.

In 2007 the Ministry of Women and Child Development published the "Study on Child Abuse: India 2007. It sampled 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders across 13 states. It looked at different forms of child abuse and in five evidence groups, namely, children in a family environment, children in school, children at work, children on the street and children in institutions.
The study's main findings included: 53.22% of children reported having faced sexual abuse. Among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06% girls.

Schools in Tiruchengode were selected and around 300 children were oriented on the different forms of touch, behaviours which itself can be forms of child sexual abuse. In the two schools we had organized, there was a wide response from the girls when conditions and facts were shared. The process involved a story telling, presentation and group discussions.

The issues and questions that emerged from the group will make us realise that children are under the experience of abuse and it is essential that more awareness have to be created around it.

©      “Even if we say NO, there are certain people who come and touch me, what can I do then”
©      “The person whom we trust itself does things that I don’t like, touching me in the wrong places, what can we do”
©      “If people whom we know does acts like this, can we say it is abuse?”
©      “If someone touches me and I avoid it and if he does it again, what can I do“
©      “To share it, I feel scared what can I do”

In the group discussion, children expressed that sometimes their own uncles and known people do such acts which causes fear and sometimes have agreed to such conditions.
The discussion resulted in ways of protecting themselves and also their friends if they are being abused. The main points shared included sharing openly about such behaviors to trusted adults, shouting or saying NO strongly, fleeing from the situation and sharing until you get help from your parent or trusted adult.

The workshop was welcomed by the faculty and the students and also realised the need to discuss topics around abuse. One message that was strongly taken was that the abuser is at fault and not the person who is abused. As an organization, it was also observed that girls especially from the disadvantaged conditions (like lower caste, poor socio-economic conditions) in rural areas have very less opportunities for such awareness programmes. In addition the experiences from this group also reveal that child sexual abuse is very much prevalent even in rural areas.

It is an urgent need for organizations and parents to realise the need to talk openly and to trust children so that they protect themselves.

Nov 15, 2010

CPCL Employee Mr. Kamaraj's Family Celebrating Diwali at NALAM center

young boys from villages part of
workshop received diwali sweets
Mr. Kamaraj from CPCL drove all the way from Chennai to celebrate
Diwali with his relatives in Namakkal and Salem districts. Right after they celebrated Diwali on Nov 5th, the entire family marked Nov 6th to celebrate diwali with Children at NALAM Child Development Center in Tiruchengode.

Some glimpses to know more about the event.
CPCL Employee Mr. Kamaraj's Father
sharing with grandparents of orphan children

Relatives of Mr Kamaraj socialising
with members of NALAM center
Diwali sweets shared for young
children participating in
Understanding Adolescent Vulnerability workshop

Nov 2, 2010

Social Protection for Children Affected by AIDS - Experiences - Requested by UNICEF India

Response from BUDS OF CHRIST

What are your experiences with social protection interventions initiated to provide services specifically for children affected by AIDS?

Enabling children to continue their education:

Children Orphaned and under the care of Grandparents and children under the care of young widows living with HIV have been specially focused in our work among orphan and vulnerable children. Buds of Christ supports around 130 children registered with us in the two blocks Tiruchengode and Elachipalayam with Educational kits that include School Bags, guides, note books, school stationeries and school uniforms.

Govt School provides free textbooks to all children, uniforms to children registered under noon meal scheme.

OVC trust of Tamilnadu State AIDS control society has supported only 99 children in the district where 12000 PLHIV access ART center. We facilitate to get the forms and access the support deserving families.

Our support has been mobilized from individual, CBOs and faith based organizations.

Challenges in accessing educational support:
v     Note books, uniforms, Bags, Footwears, stationeries, lunch kits are not provided by govt which have to be met by parents and in the case of children affected by HIV, this cost is also expensive for most of them.
v     OVC Trust in Tamilnadu supports very minimal number of children in each district. For instance Namakkal the most affected district with 12000 PLHIV registered at ART center has support provision only for 99 children
v     Second round of support through OVC Trust for the current year is still pending for unsaid reasons
v     Since the educational support from OVC Trust doesn’t reach at right time (that is beginning of June) the money received in later part is spent on other needs of family rather than the educational support. Children continue to attend school and study without proper support materials

Support with nutrition:
Children living with HIV, in addition to treatment require good nutrition, which often is compromised especially those under the care of grandparents and widows from poor families. As most of them work as daily wagers, the income they earn is very less, so Buds of Christ has facilitated nutrition support with basic provisions (Rice, Oil, Dhal, Health mix, Pulses and Grains – worth Rs. 300per pack) for children living with HIV from deserving families. This has enabled better care by care takers and also improved health status of the child.

Challenges in PDS:
v     Most of the families also access the government public delivery system where rice is provided for Re 1 per kg in Tamilnadu, but the rice provided through PDS is not appetizing for children, as it is hard and bigger than the usual rice they eat. Our support is very minimal and as rice is the main product of consumption, it is seen as very essential influence to their health.

Psychosocial support:
Fortnightly Support groups have been found effective in addressing the psychological issues of children to a great extent. Adherence has improved among adolescent children living with HIV and access to care services has also improved, but there are certain children who need constant follow-up.

Treatment Education workshops for Adolescent Children
There is an increasing need for psycho-social support for children, especially the adolescents living with HIV. Some children when they become adolescents are moving in the denial stage and even access for care and treatment is casual, especially when affected with opportunistic infections due to the fear of being identified while accessing treatment centers.

Buds of Christ organized regular Treatment literacy workshops for children living with HIV (above 12 years) and continued such workshops with their elder siblings and caretakers to provide family support for CLHIV in managing and accessing services at ART Centers with support from HIVCF - ITPC

Challenges in Treatment
v     Some children have also shown casual attitude in adhering to ARV drugs. These conditions are attributed to less psychological support offered by the family members ,the emotional changes during adolescence has to be addressed ,which is often not provided in the current government programmes.
v     Lack of child friendly services at ART centers and absence of counselors sensitive to needs of children especially the adolescents

Improving the economic condition of the house hold:
As direct services like educational support and nutrition support are being provided, it has also been felt important the need to make the families independent and not become beneficiaries. So identifying the livelihood options for care takers and mobilizing support to help them initiate small business ad thereby support children’s future. WLHIV are also part of self-help groups in their respective villages. Some women have got access to loans and economic support from banks to carry out their businesses.

Which are the other existing social protection programmes or schemes that can benefit children affected by AIDS? How do such programmes and schemes benefit children affected by AIDS?

  1. OAP - Old age pension scheme and widow pension scheme -Though the scheme is available, lack of guidance has resulted in many grandparents and widows not availing the scheme. Through our center this has been networked and through this children are benefited.
  2. IAY Indra Avas Yojana Central govt scheme – Housing scheme that provides around Rs. 60,000/- to construct homes
  3. KVT – Kalaignar Veetuvasathi Thittam – Tamilnadu Govt housing scheme where one lakh is provided for thatched roof houses in rural districts
  4. OVC Trust – TNSACS supported educational and health support for children affected by HIV and AIDS
  5. Free Legal Aid – provided at ART center in Namakkal
  6. THADCO Loan for SC families – Rs. 10,000 provided as grant to start some micro business mostly for buying cow or goat
  7. Tailoring Machines provided for women – Social Welfare Dept of District Office
  8. Houses at Samathuvapuram scheme of Tamilnadu Govt