CATS in Zimbabwe

Juliet Houghton is Country Director for CHIVA South Africa. In her latest blog she writes about her recent visit to learn more about the Zvandiri Programme in Zimbabwe.

This time last week I was in Zimbabwe, where I spent a few days with colleagues from NGO partners (MatCH, Zoe Life, Anova Health, HIV SA and Right to Care) visiting the Zvandiri programme for children and adolescents.

IMG-20170315-WA0000Zvandiri is a community based programme which provides prevention, treatment, care and support services for children, adolescents and young people with HIV, which is integrated within the clinical care provided by government and private clinics. HIV positive children and adolescents are at the heart of the programme, taking the lead in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating all of the activities.

As representatives from our respective organisations, we were here to learn more about how this model is designed and implemented, and to see how it might be adapted to fit our different contexts in South Africa.

One of the critical components of the Zvandiri programme is the belief in continuing support and mentorship of the CATS (child and adolescent treatment supporters) through adult mentors including nurses, social workers and counsellors.  Equally important, the ethos of the programme is that the CATS need to be skilled as counsellors rather than educators to be able to offer quality psychosocial support. IMG-20170315-WA0001

With adaptation to the South African context, this model offers the potential to increase psychosocial support to children, adolescents and youth who are struggling with taking their HIV treatment correctly.  The need to ensure that CATS are skilled, supported and developed will form the basis of any implementation in South Africa.

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