“Arokiya” means “health” in Tamil language. The Arokiya –Children Nutrition Project of IAPA, being implemented since February 2011 aims at enhancing the wellness and life-prolonging of HIV Positive children through provision of nutrition supplement in Chennai and the peripheral areas. India has an estimated 220,000 children infected by HIV. It is estimated that 55,000 to 60,000 children are born every year to mothers who are HIV-positive (http://www.unicef/infobycountry/India_background.html). On discussion with the medical officers we came to understand that there was no proper impetus or importance given to nutrition in the continuum of care, leading to the health conditions of children, being seriously compromised. This project envisages filling this gap.
In this aspect, we identified a group of HIV positive children, who are not attached to any care homes, but are living with their parents, mostly with their grandparents. An initial meeting of these children and their care givers was held at SMIS on 26th January, 2011, wherein we have found that the children on ART do not have proper nutrition as they are very poor. Hence the paramount need for this project. IAPA is supporting some care-homes of children as well as adult nutrition program of SMIS, but this project will be a directly implemented project of IAPA, where-in the nutrition will be directly supplied to beneficiary children. Monthly nutrition supplement items consist of milk, Horlicks, health mix powder, cereals and dates, as well as rice. At present there are 15 children in this project.
One of the objectives of this project is also to provide training to care givers. The training would consist of care and support of children living with HIV, nutrition and the preparation of nutritious food, with locally available resources. First phase of the training had already taken place, which has ensured some awareness among them and the skill to provide nutrition-rich food, safe food. In subsequent trainings they would be further trained in care and support and to prepare balanced diet and pave the way for sustaining the program.
The project monitors the progress of the children by taking the height, weight and head circumference of the children. Some significant reduction in growth amongst a few children had been noted and they are being referred Community Care Center of SMIS for treatment. To this end, a Wellness Record is being maintained with updated data about each child included in the project. In the future, we envisage including more disadvantaged children in the project.