JF Kapnek Trust | Zimbabwe


The J.F. Kapnek has ambitious but attainable goals. We aim to maintain the falling rates of mother-to-child HIV transmission, while also reducing Zimbabwe’s child mortality from 9% to less than 2%. We want to double the number of early childhood education and health centers annually until every child has the opportunity to engage in this crucial development programming. We intend to create additional rehabilitation training services in one province a year until every disabled child has an opportunity for medical treatment, as well as continuing to support the Harare Children’s Hospital’s efforts to become a world-class training and treatment center. We know that these goals may seem unattainable, but with your help they are well within our reach.

Pediatric HIV Prevention & Treatment

Programs - Maternal Health

Maternal-Child Health/Pediatric HIV Prevention: The J.F. Kapnek Trust trains and supports professionals at birthing centers and hospitals in Zimbabwe to counsel expectant mothers, conduct HIV testing, and administer the drugs needed to reduce the risk of HIV being passed from mother to child during birth and early childhood. Recently J.F. Kapnek Trust’s staff implemented the transition from short course to long-term medication management for HIV positive women; a strategy termed Option B+ by the World Health Organization. The Option B+ protocol nearly eliminates the transmission of HIV from mother to newborn, and allows women to stay healthy to do the job that matters most—raising their beautiful children.

Preschool – Child Health

Programs - Preschool Edu/Health

The AIDS epidemic took a terrible toll on family life in Zimbabwe creating more than 1 million orphans. Strong family and community ties ensure most children are taken in by a grandparent, aunt or neighbor. The Kapnek Trust supports these orphans, their caregivers and other children living within caregiving households through its preschools established at existing primary schools in Zimbabwe. With the support of the community, the Trust renovates classrooms, and trains community members to become teachers. The preschools provide students with a stimulating early childhood educational experience, play time, immunizations and routine health care. Children receive a hot meal prepared each day by volunteers that is protein- and vitamin-fortified, and is at times the only meal the children have for the day. This program was given UNICEF’s “Best Practice Award” in 2010 and was listed as a model after a review of 77 other programs in Southern Africa. For details and to download this report, click here. For a featured case study, click here.

These low-cost preschools provide much-needed relief for the extended families that care for many of these orphaned or vulnerable children and allow teen girls to attend school, rather than to stay at home to care for their young relatives. Studies have also shown that one of the most effective ways of treating children traumatized by the death of a parent is through play with other children.

Once established, each preschool is designed to run on its own, with ongoing teacher-training and vitamin fortified porridge provided by the Kapnek Trust.

Pediatric Disabilities

Programs - Disabilities

The Childrens Rehabilitation Unit was founded in 1978 by Dr. Powell and a group of concerned colleagues came under the Kapnek umbrella when Dr. Powell joined as Country Director in 2001. The Unit, originally established at Harare Central Hospital, works in partnership with the Ministry of Health to enhance physical therapy services to children with cerebral palsy and other forms of childhood disability. Parents are trained in the provision of physical therapy for their children, as well as participate in support groups to reduce their isolation brought about by the stigma of disability. The program conducts community education campaigns about the causes of disability to address the traditional beliefs that are underpinning the stigma.

The Trust has expanded the program with satellite programs that serve the greater Harare area and similar activities in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. The Trust recently completed a three year UNICEF grant to refurbish the ten provincial child rehabilitation centers and train staff to provide care to children with disabilities on a National level. The program now has the capacity, should adequate funding be identified, to provide support for over 10,000 disabled children and their families.

Harare Children’s Hospital

Programs - Harare Hospital

Harare Children’s Hospital was newly constructed as a 350 bed pediatric specific facility adjacent to Harare Central Hospital’s maternity unit in 1998. It fell into disrepair and closed in 2008 amidst world-record-setting hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. In 2010, The J.F. Kapnek Trust facilitated the re-opening of the hospital and the establishment of an independent Harare Children’s Hospital Trust to oversee the revitalization of this critical facility.

Marshalling local and international support, we have led efforts to repair the hospital’s infrastructure, resulting in the reopening of several pediatric wards, a neonatal intensive care unit, children’s play rooms and several surgical suites. The Trust is now expanding to provide nursing and pediatric specialty training in order to develop the physicians and nurses who will care for Zimbabwe’s children today and in the years ahead.

Looking to the Future: Moving forward, the Trust’s goal is to provide an integrated suite of programs addressing the health and educational needs of Zimababwe’s children, birth to age five. We envision a Harare Children’s Hospital which functions both to provide excellent care, but of equal importance, as a training center for physicians and nurses to care for Zimbabwe’s children. In an expanded national effort we will work to improve nurse training around maternal and neonatal care countrywide, providing the equipment needed to better manage prematurity, neonatal respiratory distress, jaundice and neonatal sepsis at both central and district level hospitals.

We envision an expansion of our preschool program to provide a place for every preschooler. There, children will receive not only a quality early childhood education, but also regular health and nutrition services.

With these efforts, we will achieve our goal to reduce under-five child mortality in Zimbabwe from 9% to below 2% over the next ten years and will ensure Zimbabwean children reach school age healthy, well fed, and prepared to learn.