Lifeline to target men in prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission
Designs $76M three-year strategic plan
Stabroek News
February 9, 2004

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Lifeline Counselling Services plans to engage men and their networks as it takes on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV as part of its $76 million strategic plan for the years 2004-2006.

The four-part plan addresses programme management and coordination, risk reduction, care and support, and resource management and flowed from a strategic planning workshop which reviewed Lifeline's response for 2001 - 2003. The review found there were limited strategies to address behaviour change, little involvement of faith-based organisations, unavailability of on-site testing, limited care and support offered to clients, and inadequate technical and financial resources.

Care and support are important components of the HIV fight and while increasing its focus on these, Lifeline proposes to begin on-site rapid testing for HIV antibodies. The capacity of counsellors will be strengthened and a holistic approach to providing care for people living with HIV and AIDS adopted.

Lifeline hopes to have a collaborative arrangement with the Ministry of Health, through which it will provide comprehensive care and support to HIV positive antenatal mothers who are referred, as well as Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services to the partners of those women. Emphasis will be placed on preserving the lives of these women as a means of reducing their children's vulnerability to disease and other social problems. Care and support services will for the first time include an on-site pharmacy, on-call physician, a social worker who will act as a case manager, and follow-up, home-based care.

Under the programme management and co-ordination component, Lifeline will formalise the existing ad hoc board during this year, improve its management system to ensure greater accountability, and develop organisational and public health policies to guide its work. Concomitantly, the organisation will increase its human resources and strengthen its skills base.

With regard to risk reduction, Lifeline had begun over the last few years to shift its focus to behaviour change communication. In the next three years the organisation will direct its attention to evidence-based intervention programmes that are gender-sensitive. Special attention will be given to engaging men and their networks in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. One-on-one encounters through peer education and counselling will be expanded and access to general health promotion information increased.

The resource mobilisation component will ensure the provision of adequate aid as donors will be encouraged to support various activities and programmes identified in the plan. Additionally Lifeline will actively engage the private sector community and overseas-based Guyanese organisations in fundraising activities. Lifeline hopes to build on its corporate sponsorship programme over the next three years.

Lifeline's mission is to reduce the psychosocial impact of HIV and AIDS on persons living with and affected by the disease through education, care and support.

The organisation was established in October 1996. In 1998, Lifeline began its expanded education programme targeting communities on the East Coast and East Bank Demerara and gradually extending to all regions of Guyana by the end of 2000.

The thrust of Lifeline's expanded education programme was training of trainers and building individual groups' capacity to direct their own response in the regions. The period 1999 to 2001 saw the development and expansion of Lifeline's AIDS and the Workplace programme. This programme has since been strengthened to provide technical assistance to agencies to develop workplace policies aimed at addressing HIV and AIDS prevention and creating a supportive environment for people living with HIV and AIDS.