As a response to the AIDS crisis in Africa, and inspired by Stephen Lewis, Edzimkulu, A Society for Children of AIDS was an active Canadian charity based in Edmonton, Alberta from 2003 to 2014. We provided health care focused on HIV/AIDS and HIV prevention, orphan support, gender equality, and early childhood education in the small village of Ndawana, South Africa. Our work grew to embrace community based primary health care and to provide support throughout a district of 500,000 people.
We now have a new look, a new structure, a new program (see Pholela and Edzimkulu under Programs) and old programmes with a new focus. We now are in partnership with Change for Children, a Canadian Charity that has been active for some 40 years. As planned, Edzimkulu Canada ended operation in early 2014. Edzimkulu South Africa continues, mostly working at the district and provincial levels. Most programmes in Ndawana are now under the government Department of Health, with early childhood education still our baby.
We invite you to look at our Three Year Plan, for more information about where we’ve been and where we we’re going in 2013. A new two year plan will be published in late 2015 or early 2016.
The Impact of Edzimkulu
When we arrived in Ndawana in 2003, we had no idea that twelve years later we would have had an impact on the fight against HIV beyond our wildest dreams.
Because of Edzimkulu:
- Ndawana is an award-winning model of how low-cost, community-centered solutions can achieve outcomes that far exceed those of much larger, higherprofile organizations.
- The infant mortality rate in Ndawana is lower than the national average. Before, it was three times the national average.
- Almost every child is fully immunized. Before, only one in five children were immunized.
- Every person with HIV who is eligible is on treatment. Before, only ten percent of people dying from AIDS were able to access treatment.
- Twelve years ago, there were four to eight funerals a week. Today, some weeks go by without a single one.
Edzimkulu has achieved its goals for Ndawana. The clinic is run by the government in a building we built, and most of our employees are now working for either the government or another NGO. Ten years in, we are recognized as one of the best examples of the re-engineering of primary health care in South Africa. In 2014 we were going to retire. In baseball, they say it’s best to retire at the top of your game. But this isn’t baseball, this is about the number of children dying before their fifth birthday, the number of women infected by AIDS because their husbands refuse to wear a condom, and the number of infected children left behind when their parents die.
These stats have improved dramatically at Ndawana, though they have not improved at nearly the same rate in the rest of South Africa. In 2012, in a study commissioned by the national government, the Public Health Association of South Africa reported that “Despite relatively high levels of inputs (finances, human resources) health outcomes in South Africa remain below par.”
Ezimkulu has achieved its goals for Ndawana, but there’s more to be done at the District and Provincial levels. We are staying because we have been asked to stay by our partners and community. We are staying because we believe that we can make even greater contributions. We have learned what it takes to create community change – long-term, sustainable, systems change – and we are committed to proving that small independent organizations can contribute to significant change.
Awards and Recognition
- Premier’s Award for Outstanding Community Service (Eastern Cape) to Chris Newton
- Three Edzimkulu management team members from Ndawana received full scholarships to attend International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada
- Edzimkulu selected to present its community approach to AIDS at World AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada
- Selected to present, with Department of Health (DoH), at 30th Anniversary of Alma-Ata Conference
- Certified Management Accountants Alberta Community Leadership Award for work in South Africa for Chris Newton
- Best practice model in KwaZulu-Natal for community-based HIV work by Khomanani Caring Together, a national government social mobilization campaign
- South African best practice model for Community Mobilization for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT): The University of Western Cape and Medical Research Council, in conjunction with the National Department of Health
- Best practice model for implementation of Community-Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (CIMCI). In a study conducted by Masazi Consulting for UNICEF and the National Department of Health, Edzimkulu was found to be the best practice site in South Africa for their work in PMTCT, home-based growth monitoring for children 0 – 5 years of age, and early intervention for HIV-positive children.
- Edzimkulu’s stigma DVD selected for presentation at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria.
- Appointed by the DoH to represent NGOs as an advocate for children
- Selected to present the Ndawana Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC) model at the World Conference on Lung Health in Lille, France
- Selected as one of eight good practice models of primary health care in KwaZulu- Natal and selected as one of two from KwaZulu Natal Province at the national level by Health Systems Trust, commissioned by the National Department of Health
- Chris and Jim awarded Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medals for outstanding contributions to Canada