In many resource-limited settings such as Rwanda, Ministry of Health protocols recommend that HIV-infected mothers should breast feed their newborn babies for the first 6 months of life. Although HIV is transmitted through breast milk, these newborns are at high risk of mortality due to severe malnutrition and diarrhea if they are formula-fed. Women are advised to discontinue breastfeeding at 6 months of age to minimize HIV transmission. Unfortunately, this is very difficult for poor families who do not have any other means of feeding their child.
We are providing nutritous alternatives for HIV-exposed infants from 6 months to 24 months of life. With a small pilot group of families, we have been providing infant formula for the first three months as children transition to solid food, as well as fortified porridge to all infants from 6 to 24 months of age. Our goal is to first expand this project to all HIV-exposed infants at one health center. Once successful, we plan to expand the program to HIV-exposed infants to all health centers in the Ruli District Hospital catchment area. Our next step will be to address food security for all families in these communities through a large scale agriculture project.
Our goal is to introduce household nutrition consults to gradually decrease the need for supplements over time. In addition, we are investigating ways to make this project sustainable through a series of income-generating projects such as local fortified sosoma production.