DREAM meeting in Maputo, Mozambique
Over the weekend of 18th/19th of February 2023 a big group of Sisters and staff arrived in Maputo from several African countries: Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Congo, Kenya and Mozambique itself. The staff was accommodated in an hotel in Maputo while the Sisters travelled to stay at the Provincial house of the Daughters of Charity in Matola. This necessitated a lot of trips to the airport as planes came in, and later out, to and from many different airports and at different times. The Sisters in Matola did a wonderful job and many hours of driving to coordinate everything.
This influx of people, Daughters of Charity and their staff: Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Laboratory scientists, IT personnel and Program Coordinators were all here to participate in a week-long DREAM course.
DREAM: Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition is an holistic health care program for people living with HIV/AIDS. It was conceived and set up by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay catholic community in Rome in the late 1990s. Sant’Egidio made a promise to bring the same high quality of care and treatment to the people in Africa living with HIV/ADS as was available in Europe and North America at the time. This was a very big and courageous promise and the Community of Sant’Egidio has delivered DREAM, an holistic program of excellence to 12 African Countries and to many DREAM centres in those countries.
In 2005 the Daughters of Charity entered into an agreement, signed by the President of Sant’Egidio and Sr. Evelyne Franc, Superioress General of the Daughters of Charity, to collaborate with the Community of Sant’Egidio to bring DREAM to countries where the Sisters live and work in Africa. This agreement was signed in Paris at their Motherhouse in 2005. Since then, the Sisters have opened 6 DREAM centres in 6 African countries, plus two centres in Mozambique, Chokwe and Chalucuane, that were already collaborating with Sant’Egidio.
The DREAM meeting in Maputo was to bring Sisters and staff from each country to share experience, to evaluate and to determine the new challenges that face their programs 20 years later. The DREAM program provides counselling and testing, care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus, molecular laboratories for viral load and CD4 testing, pharmacies, nutrition units, care and treatment of tuberculosis, psychosocial support and home care for those who need it. The DREAM has been enormously successful, particularly in preventing mother to child transmission of the virus. Any mother who comes to the centre early in her pregnancy and is compliant with the treatment is sure to have a healthy baby who is HIV negative. This is a huge relief and brings great joy to the mother and the whole family. It is also found that the majority of those children born negative, many of whom are now teenagers, tend to remain HIV negative through the psychosocial counselling and the youth support groups that educate and support these young people; the parents of tomorrow.
Since the beginning, DREAM has also taken care of related illness: tuberculous, various infections, and in recent years, testing women for cervical cancer, counselling, support and referral for treatment. During the course presentations, and in the experience of those present, the new challenges will be cancer, malaria, hypertension, diabetes, and epilepsy.
Economic growth, even if slow, means general health improves. Lifestyles have improved and the face of extreme poverty, while still a huge concern, has also changed. Maternal and infant mortality has been reduced. Mortality from HIV has greatly decreased. However, access to quality health care for people who are poor is still a big concern. New challenges are emerging and DREAM, during their meeting in Maputo, was more than willing and ready to meet these challenges within the current program.
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