Forum for African Women Educationalists Swaziland Chapter (FAWESWA)

Our BMS Foundation will grant $207,435 over 36 months to help this project, which aims to reduce the incidence of HIV, STIs, and TB among adolescents in 15 schools in 3 Tinkhundlas (local units).

Need

Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world, reported to be at 26% among the sexually active population. HIV infection is reported to be higher among women (31.1%) than men (19%). The HIV and AIDS epidemic has also given rise to a concurrent tuberculosis epidemic in the country. It is estimated that 1,380 per 100,000 incident TB cases occur annually in Swaziland (World Health Organization Global TB report 2012). TB services have so far paid more attention to adults, people living with HIV, and children and mine workers, while adolescents have only received information and attention if they are TB contacts. Cervical cancer, often associated with HIV and AIDS, has been noted among young women, which is most of the time diagnosed at stage four as these women consult health facilities late when nothing can be done to save them.

The Cairo 94’ Program of Action called upon all countries to provide youth-friendly sexual reproductive health services and, in response, Swaziland built the structures in selected public health clinics. However, these structures have not been adequately utilized by the youth, because the services are provided by older and untrained service providers.

As HIV, tuberculosis and cancer affect many families, they have led many girls to drop out of school to nurse their sick relatives. Such incidences have resulted in girls becoming caretakers for their parents and being exposed to TB. The SHIMS 2011 showed that a high number of new infections occurred among young women aged 18 to 24, whose HIV incidence rates were between 3.8% and 4.2%. Throughout their lives, women are at a particularly higher risk of HIV infection due to social, cultural, biological and early sex debut. Also, economic factors and inadequate services render them more vulnerable to contracting STIs, HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions and maternal and neonatal deaths. These pregnancies have contributed to many adolescent girls dropping out of school. Recent reports by National Emergency Response on HIV and AIDS (NERCHA) state that incidence of HIV infection rates among girls is now on the high side – 3.9% among ages 15 -19 and 4.5% among women aged 20 -24.

The Forum for African Women Educationalists Swaziland Chapter (FAWESWA) is a non-governmental organization established in 1997 with the goal of improving access, participation and retention of girls in school until completion. Aware of the challenges that adolescent and young women are facing, FAWESWA proposes this project directed at adolescent girls and young women to address HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections and to provide them with information about female cancers so that they can bring the information to their households.

Project

The project will begin with a baseline survey to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices of adolescents and school partners on issues of HIV, STIs, TB and Cancer among adolescents. Focus will be put on raising awareness of breast and cervical cancer as well as of the correlation between HIV, TB and cancer among 34,385 girls and young women. FAWESWA will develop and distribute informational material while creating sensitization meetings for community caregivers, nurses, teachers, community leaders and school committee members.

The project will also train 30 peer educators among girls and 30 rural health motivators while building capacity for community caregivers, school health nurses, local clinic nurses, and guidance teachers. These leaders will then be able to provide community-based counseling and support and facilitate condom distribution among youth, breast cancer screening and other health-seeking behavior for young women and their families.

This project will be tracked, monitored and evaluated through monthly, quarterly and annual reports which will compare results to baseline findings on a variety of assessments including the knowledge, attitudes and practices of communities in the project areas.

Partners

  • Co-coordinating Assembly of NGOs
  • Government Ministries of Educating and Training and Gender and Family Affairs Health
  • Swaziland Breast and Cervical Cancer Network.
  • The Ministry of Education and Training Guidance and Counselling.
  • The Family Life Association of Swaziland
  • World Vision