MPhil study projects

Constraints that inhibit children who are on chronic medication to adhere to their treatment: Perspectives from social workers working with affected children in the Cape Flats area of the Western Cape

Student: Nontuthuko Nompilo Dhlamini

Country: Zimbabwe

The prevalence of HIV positive children defaulting on their antiretroviral treatment (ART) in Cape Town, despite treatment availability, has been noted anecdotally. The perspectives of social workers, crucial service providers for families with treatment defaulting children, remained unexplored. The study engaged 17 social workers from child protection services in the Cape Flats. Interviews delved into various aspects of children with chronic illnesses, including their needs, community challenges, available support systems and the role of caregivers.

Key findings highlighted the essential requirements for children with chronic illnesses, such as access to healthcare, adequate nutrition, supervision, education and caregiver understanding. Support systems identified included family, community, NGOs and healthcare providers. Challenges identified encompassed poverty linked to inadequate resources, substance abuse among caregivers, gang violence and insufficient support from healthcare providers.

The recommendations included increased caregiver support through support groups, provision of home-based carers and mobile clinics, additional medical staffing, school involvement in supporting children and families and service integration.