HIV/Aids Medical Home Care Unit
BCTFN Started working with Rejoice Urban Development Project in 1999 assisting with their HIV/Aids project. The BCTFN assist Rejoice with funding for the purchase of medicines. BCTFN donates 30,000 Baht per month. This Rejoice care unit travels to homes and communities to serve the medical and emotional care needs of poor people suffering from HIV/Aids infection. The programme provides free, ongoing care to communities which lack adequate medical services.
In addition to treatment, Rejoice provides patients and their family members with basic medical training to enable them to care for themselves on an ongoing basis. This training reduces the unfounded fears that can cause stigma and isolation from families and communities.
Fully operational since January 1998, Rejoice today serves a population of very poor, sick and underprivileged people living in urban slums, impoverished villages and the surrounding hill tribe areas. In particular, Rejoice with funding assistance from BCTFN and other sponsors provide the medical and social support so desperately needed by people infected with or affected by HIV/Aids.
What are the benefits of Rejoice’s activities?
* Prevention of the spread of HIV by educating locals about the disease and how to protect themselves from it, by increasing health standards and by the use of condoms, supplied by Rejoice or obtained elsewhere. Rejoice treats minor sexually transmitted infections such as herpes and gives advice on how to seek treatment for more serious ones. Sex workers are educated on how to create a safer environment for themselves. Mothers are supplied with baby formula milk and community action is supported and promoted. Individuals are empowered through skill transfer, especially among the poor, women and children.
* The impact of HIV on the people and communities of Chiang Mai is reduced by providing badly needed community and home based health care of which BCTFN contribute monthly, by providing orphans of Aids with education, health care, and emotional support, and by erasing the social stigma associated with HIV/Aids through education.
* Reduction in the social and economic strain on the local communities, caused by the HIV/Aids epidemic, through HIV prevention and education, as well as by improving the health of individuals and the community.
Who are the Beneficiaries?
The direct beneficiaries of our projects are the poor, women, children, sex workers, drug users and other marginalised groups such as local hill tribe communities. These are the people most affected by HIV/Aids, suffering from a high rate of transmission and few resources to cope with the many problems associated with the disease. Rejoice serves approximately 1,000 families in the Chiang Mai Province. Of these families, approximately 60% are women, 50% are children, 15% are from hill tribe communities, and 15% are sex workers. Without the services of Rejoice and BCTFN, these people would have little or no access to basic health care, no education about how to improve their own health standards and very few social and emotional support systems to help cope with the consequences of HIV/Aids.
Providing access to basic health care in the homes of community members and improving their health standards through medical services, education and skill transfer directly affects the economic burden placed on community members by the HIV/Aids epidemic. Through Rejoice services and BCTFN’S generous monthly funding contributions, clientele can return to work and provide for their families, orphaned children can return to school and receive the education they deserve, an environment is created that allows clientele to free themselves from the vicious cycle of poverty, and a social and emotional support network is created that gives them a much needed voice in the community. All of these benefits of Rejoice services have a direct link to the alleviation of poverty in the Chiang Mai Province.
Rejoice’s care giving methods are unique. The approach is not simply to treat the patients and leave them to convalesce, but also to assist the patient and family to come to terms with their terminal disease. The Rejoice team creates a family support system and prepares families for the often gruelling long-term care of one or more family members. It also offers a much-needed outside source of social support to family caregivers. Rejoice helps minimise their experience of being overwhelmed and alone in facing what is often the death of multiple family members.
Aids affects entire families and not just the infected individual. In most households, more than one family member is infected with, and eventually dies from, Aids. Moreover, the most severely ill family member is often cared for by another family member, who is also HIV-positive. Rejoice is aware of these factors and structures its services to address the diverse needs of the affected families.
UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Royal Thai government all estimate that there are at present approximately 90,000 people in Chiang Mai province suffering from HIV/Aids and related illnesses. This figure includes an estimated 4,000 people in the terminal stages of Aids. In the upper North, adjacent to the Chiang Mai province, an additional 400,000 people are thought to be infected.
Thailand has a population of about 70 million people. In 2002 the Royal Thai government estimated that 1 in 60 of the population, or just over 1%, was infected with HIV. However, the WHO believes that a further 20% can be added to this figure, bringing the proportion infected with HIV to almost 3%, or about 2.6 million people.
Chiang Mai is situated in the upper-northern part of Thailand, about 1,027 feet above sea level. The province’s capital, Chiang Mai City, is around 720 kilometres and one hour by air from the capital, Bangkok. With a land area of 20,107 square kilometres, Chiang Mai province is the second largest in the country. About 83% of the land area is covered by mountains and forests, 13% is cultivated by farmers and 5% is used for residential and other purposes.
The current population of Chiang Mai Province is estimated by the Thai government at around 2.7 million people. There are 1,072 communities dispersed throughout the province. Ethnic groups include eleven major tribes: Karen, Lahu, Lisu, Lawa, Akha, Yao, Meo, Khamu, Hmong, Barong and tribal Chinese, plus several smaller minority groups, such as the Shan and Chin nationals. However, this diversity often leads to a fragmentation of the population into ethnic enclaves, each possessing a distinct set of medical and social needs.
The Aids virus is a devastating common denominator among all of these sub-populations. Chiang Mai had the misfortune of being one of the earliest epicentres of the Aids epidemic in Thailand. Today, the increasing number of infected individuals succumbing to Aids-related diseases has given rise to additional economic and social needs as well as the usual medical ones among the local population.