Building HIV-sensitive social protection systems through the ‘Cash plus Care’ model: Findings from East and Southern Africa
East and Southern Africa carries the global burden of HIV/ AIDS and the impact of HIV/AIDS on children, adolescents and their families is tremendous. In collaboration with governments in four countries in the region, UNICEF conceived a ‘Cash Plus Care’ intervention in 2014, which aims to strengthen the linkages between HIV/AIDS services and national social protection programmes.
The project, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, is being implemented in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The aim is to reach families with children and adolescents, who are vulnerable to or affected by the epidemic through cash transfer schemes and support.
There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that social protection, in particular cash transfers, can reduce risk to HIV infection by tackling some of the key drivers of HIV infections amongst children and adolescents, such as poverty, gender inequality and lack of access to education. Cash transfers are increasingly being recognised as an important tool to scale up national AIDS responses and advance HIV prevention and care outcomes in East and Southern Africa. However, there is very little operational guidance on the kind of mechanisms that can be used to link HIV/AIDS services to national social protection programmes, which is what the UNICEF-led ‘Cash Plus Care’ aims to achieve.
The Cash Plus Care intervention adopts a “systems strengthening” approach and supports the building of community-based care and public welfare services, while addressing a range of vulnerabilities that drive the HIV epidemic. In all four countries, the interventions are developed and implemented in close collaboration with national, provincial and district level governments from a range of sectors, including social welfare and child protection ministries. As well, efforts have focused on building the capacity of case management workers and community volunteers in order to better identify vulnerable cases and provide them access to HIV care and support.