|A mother entering the Milk Powder Program|
The Milk Powder Project was initiated to curtail the spread of HIV/AIDS by helping to prevent vertical transmission of the disease. Due to the high prevalence of HIV in our area, this project has saved many lives, and has helped educate a community on the dangers of HIV, better health and hygiene practices, and family planning options.
We are in one of the most highly prevalent areas in the world for HIV. Tanzania as a country has a prevalence of 6-8%, while the Iringa region, and Mufindi district has a prevalence of more than double that at 16%. The health dispensary in our area of Mufindi has a rate of 35% for the general population, and for women aged 20-60 years old, or the Mothers of the children we are trying to protect from HIV, the prevalence is nearly 45%! Any measure to bring fewer new infections of HIV (such as this program) will help the community remain healthy enough to build their own community development for generations to come.
|A single mother receives further|
counseling in her home
The Milk Powder Program itself started in 2010 when a child’s Mother had passed away from HIV, and there was no alternative source for the infant to get any nourishment. There is no history of keeping livestock in this area, and the weather (cold and rainy) makes it more difficult to start such a project. Foxes’ NGO purchases infant milk formula for that child and taught a relative how to feed the baby and care for him. The aunt stayed at Igoda Children’s Village for a short time getting counseling and lessons, and then returned home while each following month a short seminar was given to her by a health professional, and a refill of the infant formula was given.
|Home visits ensure the program's success |
by lending the mothers a listening ear,
and giving further advice on proper uses of the formula.
A grant was then written to pay for the purchase of enough Milk formula to extend this project, and so new Mothers with HIV were enrolled into the program where they would receive a lengthy tutorial on the importance of clean water, and bottles, but also on how important it would be to abstain from breast feeding especially after the child reached the age of 6 months. This was due to the fact that at around 6 months most children in this area would be introduced to some solid foods. This often causes small lacerations in the digestive tract that allow the HIV virus to enter into the bloodstream.
Because breastfeeding is a ‘natural form of birth-control,’ each month the Mothers get counseling and advice on other birth control options to them. Since we are in such a remote area, plans need to be coordinated to offer women such services that might be available in cities or large towns. Foxes’ NGO has teamed up with several other organizations to provide this education, and resources to enable women to make their own choices in regards to family planning.
Progress to Date
So far the program has already provided formula for 157 children. There are new cases coming each month, but other children ‘graduate’ after they’ve reached the age of two. In the past six months 26 new children have been enrolled in the program, and so we will continue to have between 70-90 children receiving milk powder each month. Each and every child enrolled in the program has not only avoided contracting HIV, but has also grown into a healthy child as the nourishment from the program has helped weight gain and overall nutrition.
|"Milk Powder Day" at Mdabulo Health Facility. |
76 children are currently enrolled in the program.
Challenge Going Forward
The obvious challenge going forward with this project is funding. Strides have been taken to find a more sustainable source of milk (a cow project will start hopefully later this year) but in the meantime we are trying our hardest to find the funds to keep the program going. We have depended on past donations from various fundraisers in Canada, the UK, and the US, and this year we are trying to re-start the fundraising efforts to obtain funding for the next two years when hopefully a cheaper local source will be available to the community.
Each case is slightly different, but the average child will cost about $460USD for the entire program. The cost is broken down like this:
Normally a child starts the program at 6 months of age because the national policy says that an HIV+ mother should breastfeed SOLELY from 0-6 months. At 6 months, the mother needs to find alternate sources of milk for the baby. From 6 months to 12 months, the child is using infant formula (1 tin lasts around 4-6 days, so we give 6 tins a month). At one year, the child switches to 1 kg of regular full milk powder and 1 kg of lishe, a nutritional porridge mixture, until the child is two. We do this because malnutrition-specifically Kwashiorkor (a protein deficiency, in which 33% of cases that are hospitalized die) and marasmus (a calorie deficiency) are very common among children in the ages of 1-2 in our area. If the child makes it to 2, the chances of them getting Kwashiorkor are much less.
1 tin of infant formula now costs 16,500/= x 6 tins a month = 99,000/= x 6 months = 594,000/=
1 kg of full milk powder costs 10,800/= x 12months = 129,600/=
1kg of lishe powder costs 1000/= x 12 months = 12,000/=
594,000 + 129,600 + 12,000 = 437,400/=
(1USD = 1,600/= right now)
735,600/= is approximately $459.75 or rounded to $460.00
**Please note that this is for an average case! Not all our customers fit into this regular/average formula. We have children who need to start the program before 6 months sometimes. This would happen if the mother died in childbirth, or became too ill with an opportunistic infection, like TB, and could no longer produce milk. We also have cases that are out of the ordinary. Example one = a mother, that does NOT have HIV, that has 9 children, and last last two are 3 month old twins. Because of poverty, she wasn’t getting a great diet and her breast milk wasn’t enough for her babies, so we started giving her 2 kg of this lishe porridge and that has helped her increase her milk supply and meet the demands of her babies. Example 2 = a 4 year old girl with cerebral palsy that wouldn’t eat anything but this porridge from the age of 1-3. Her weight was in the dangerous RED zone on her clinic card, and with the help of giving her 2kg of lishe and 1 kg of milk each month, she is on the border of the gray and red zone. In fact, she has been completely in the gray zone two times now-a HUGE step coming from the deep within the red!
Fortunately as the program stands now, very few of the children require the very expensive tins of milk powder. We anticipate the total cost of the program to be approximately $12,000 for the rest of this year, and $24,000 for 2014. This may sound like an overwhelming sum, but every bit counts, and several efforts will be made to raise these funds, so your support will mean a lot!
More Data Summarized:
Number of new mothers started program in the past six months = 26
July = 1
June = 5
May = 3
April = 6
March = 9
Feb = 2
Total children on:
Lactogen 1 (milk powder tins) = 3
Lactogen 2 (milk powder tins) = 6
Lishe/full milk = 67
Total Children currently in program = 76
Total children ever helped with the program = 157
Next 6 months (July - December 2013) estimated average of two to three new cases every month