Oct 20, 2011

Zimbabwe Implements New Food Voucher Program for HIV Patients


In Zimbabwe local hospitals have begun providing electronic vouchers to patients being treated for either HIV or TB who are malnourished. The adult’s body mass index, the upper-arm circumference of children and the family’s ability to access food are assessed during registration in order to determine if a patient and their family is eligible for enrollment in the food-assistance program.  The scratch-off vouchers can be used to purchase specific food—such as maize-meal, beans, and vegetable oil—at designated stores. Additionally, 10kg of a corn soy blend are provided to each family at registration.

Started by the UN World Food Programme and put into practice through local governments and NGOs, the vouchers are provided to patients and their family for a period of 6 months. If a family is still malnourished after 6 months, they can be granted an extension. 

HIV patients who are malnourished are more likely to fall victim to opportunistic infections (OIs) which can rapidly deteriorate their health. Through the food voucher program, patients are able to access higher quality food than normal that will not only shorten their recovery time when they are already sick but help them ward off subsequent OIs. Life for Mothers (LfM) is encouraged to see the holistic approach to care for patients in Zimbabwe. LfM believes that the food voucher program will provide much needed assistance beyond the provision of medication and can act as a model to be scaled up throughout Africa.

To read the original IRIN article, please click here

Did you know?

Every year, more than one million children are left motherless and vulnerable because of maternal death.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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