While rates of HIV in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are relatively low at 1% (UNAIDS, 2015), prevalence in population centers and along economic corridors has remained a consistent concern among public health officials. Among those most deeply affected are children—the DRC is home to an estimated 290,000 children orphaned by AIDS, and tens of thousands more are made vulnerable due to an HIV-positive parent or caregiver whose illness compromises their ability to meet the needs of their children.
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, EDC is working to improve services, support, and opportunities for orphans and vulnerable children affected by the epidemic through the Enhancing Services and Linkages for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (ELIKIA) project. The project also provides HIV-affected households with an increased range of services that contribute to HIV treatment adherence, testing, and prevention, improving the coordinated continuum of care for people affected by HIV.
EDC works with local partners in eight health zones around the city of Lubumbashi on the following activities:
- Establish a case management system to support parents and caregivers in HIV-affected households to meet the needs of the children in their care
- Strengthen health and social service referral systems to improve households' access to needed services
- Deliver comprehensive training programs for parents and caregivers on subjects such as positive parenting skills, early childhood development, adolescent health and development, and caring for children living with HIV
- Implement financial education and savings group activities as a means of strengthening household economic stability
- Distribute temporary cash transfers to help highly destitute households become more resilient
- Provide education support to children at risk of dropping out of school
- Strengthen community child protection systems to address cases of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation
- Build the capacity of community volunteers, clinical staff, civil society organizations, and the Division of Social Affairs (DIVAS) to care for orphans and vulnerable children
- An estimated 43,000 orphans and other vulnerable children will benefit from ELIKIA activities.
Catholic Relief Services, Palladium Group, Caritas Katanga