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“Healthy Mother, Healthy Child” – interim report

The first interim report of the project “Healthy Mother, Healthy Child”, which started in June 2015, is in the process of being composed.   Project…
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The first interim report of the project “Healthy Mother, Healthy Child”, which started in June 2015, is in the process of being composed.
Project coordinator Natalia Utrovskaya shares:
“Leading project activities in two cities remotely, while being in a third city is a challenging task, but it is crucial in terms of strengthening the community and developing ‘E.V.A.’s network as well as oneself as a representative of the network on behalf of the secretariat. I frequently receive feedback from the regions and through this I know what problems HIV-positive women and their dear ones are facing in regions far away from the central part of Russia, such as Tumen region, Khabarovsk krai and even Primorsky krai.
Within the project, two teams are working – one in Khabarovsk and the second in Tumen. Each team is made up of three specialists: a regional coordinator, a peer counselor, and a social worker. Together they fulfill a series of events as part of the project objectives, of which I, in Saint-Petersburg, receive monthly reports. The aim of the project is to prevent 400 HIV-positive pregnant women and women with small children in challenging situations in Tumen and Khabarovsk from refusing or dropping their treatment.
The total quantity of beneficiaries for the first half year of the project have already reached the anticipated results. At current, the project works with 356 women (140 in Khabarovsk and 216 in Tumen), of whom 172 are pregnant and who, in addition to counseling, social, psychological, and material support, are continuously in contact with peer counselors. Each woman who communicates with project implementers receives complete information on preventing HIV transmission from mothers to children and also all the information about pregnancy, giving birth, and the possibilities for receiving social support from the government.
By the time the project is completed, the results will be shared with the regional ministries of health. In this way, once again we hope to direct the government’s attention to the importance of collaboration between AIDS centers and peer counselors and also non-profits that provide non-medical services that work to solve the issue of vertical transmission of HIV from mothers to children and preventing refusals of treatment for the women themselves after giving birth.”
Project coordinator in Tumen, Natalia Ustyouzhanina, shares:
“Currently the main chunk of materials have already been purchased for us: diapers, ‘Vitamin Fairy’ books for children with HIV, and posters. The posters will be distributed across the entirety of the Tumen region. We plan on giving them to all gynecologist offices and general doctors’ offices where women with HIV may go. The doctors are grateful for these materials and the clients are happy that there are books that help children cope with their status.
How is our project constructed? We provide house visits to women who refuse to take ART. These trips are taken by a peer counselor and a psychologist/psychotherapist.
We actively work with the family planning center. We have a trustworthy doctor and this center allows not only him, but also a peer counselor to communicate with women who refuse to take ART. If we are aware of the fact that a woman in the maternity ward refuses to take her ARV therapy, we go to her. We also work with a gynecologist from the AIDS center.
Personally for me it is painful to know about mothers who do not give their children their treatment. How can you convince a woman to give her child life-saving treatment? But there are refusals nonetheless, regardless of how hard we try. Maybe in these cases it’s necessary to get a prosecutor involved?”
Inessa Romanova, project team coordinator in Khabarovsk, shares:
“As part of the project ‘Healthy Mother, Healthy Child’, I was invited to participate in an internship in Tumen, and at first I couldn’t believe my ears. For several years it has been my dream to visit my colleague and friend Natalia Ustyouzhanina and see her work with the community of PLWH and the rehabilitation center. As it turns out, we work on the same issues: supporting PLWH and working with drug-dependant individuals, and we have many interests in common. We met here and there at trainings and spoke on the phone and always dreamed of being for at least a few days in the same place, either on her terrain or mine, so we could leisurely discuss these shared topics.
Natalia Ustyouzhanina met me at the airport and at last we could be together. Over the course of four days we were very active: Natalia invited me to her office where I counseled young women on living with HIV, we discussed the project and its importance, we looked through the brochures and project literature, and talked through the cooperation of non-profits with the government, we visited a wonderful rehabilitation center where I led a consultation with people going through rehab, after which I took advantage of the fresh air of the countryside and gathered mushrooms. It was the most wonderful internship of my life!”.

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