The HIV and AIDS program is targeting women in Kapara and Mnukwa Rural Health Centres to seek services that would reduce the risks of the unborn child becoming HIV positive. This is why as an organisation; we promoted the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT). The capacity development programs are being enhanced the antenatal clinics and other health outreach strategies which are giving women an informed choice in seeking counselling, testing and treatment to reduce on child mortality. The project is reaching out to 75 pregnant mothers on ART and targeting an extra 4,000 members of the community. We are grateful to the USAID funded Zambia led Prevention Initiative which helped in giving Kachere Development Program funds to implement a year program for the new sites of Kapara and Mnukwa.
There is need to strengthen the life of unborn children as this helps in focusing our attention on the zero infection. This mandate as enshrined in both our National Voluntary Counseling and Testing and World AIDS day commitment will ensure that we all get involved in promoting practices that are realistic and visible to reach our goals. During the year 2012, Kachere Development Program realised the need to integrate PMTCT into a project on harmful cultural practices and women empowerment so as to develop local vulnerable but viable communities tounleash their potential and provide a platform that would transform systems that are a conduit to HIV infection. One such conduit has identified in the way some cultural norms have been
retained especially those linked to initiation ceremonies for girls. Some tribes still conduct initiation ceremonies which disadvantages the education opportunities for girls as they are kept in seclusion for about a month. This is further worsened by the fact that some girls that are exposed to such practices at minor ages are not able to cope up with the kind of teaching that
surpasses the levels of knowledge.
Moreover, the conduit for HIV infection comes when a girl who has been put in initiation ceremony is at the end of the month’s session exposed to men who are locally known as ‘afisi’ (hyenas) to test the ability of the newly graduated girl. These are mostly hired by women trainers or counsellors locally known as ‘alangizi’ to assess their teaching ability. This has put some children at risk where they have been exposed to unprotected intimacy and thereby increasing the chances of unwanted/unplanned pregnancies, sexual transmitted infections and HIV and AIDS.
Kachere is therefore engaging traditional leaders to help in changing cultural practices are a risk to young people. The program identifies some cultural practices that still varied and helpful in today’s societies as it is still very necessary to retain our identity as local communities. This calls for cultural transformation as culture is very dynamic. Kachere conducted community awareness raising programs in the area of PMTCT and other factors that are a key driver to HIV such as Multi and Concurrent sex Partners (MCP); Intergeneration sex partners (IGS). The organisation is engaging young people to appreciate other forms of prevention such as Male Circumcision (MC).