Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative

Partnership objectives

  1. Help children affected by HIV/AIDS, poverty and conflict cope with loss and regain confidence (psychosocial support).
  2. Improve access to HIV counselling and testing, adherence to antiretroviral therapy in Tanzania and Zambiato reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.
  3. Identify key elements of an effective minimal psychosocial package.

REPSSI provides psychosocial support to children affected by poverty, conflict, HIV and AIDS. REPSSI provides psychosocial support to children affected by poverty, conflict, HIV and AIDS. Copyright Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

What are the health needs and challenges?

HIV/AIDS has left millions of children in sub-Saharan Africa without parents. The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development cofounded and continues to support the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) for children affected by HIV/AIDS, poverty and conflict.

Psychosocial support is the right of every child.

Children and youth exposed to the devastating effects of poverty, conflict, HIV and AIDS are especially entitled to care for their emotional and social (psychosocial) wellbeing. Many have lost parents and family, experienced deprivation and abuse, been stigmatized, witnessed atrocities, and suffered overwhelming grief.

This generation of children will soon be leading our countries and our communities. They need the right support if they are to grow into capable and compassionate adults, and active citizens engaged in their communities.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In collaboration with NGOs, REPSSI develops and disseminates courses and tools for psychosocial support. Through its partners, REPSSI also assists thousands of children and households with income-generating measures to help them out of extreme poverty. REPSSI helps to improve access to HIV counselling and testing as well as adherence to antiretroviral therapy in Tanzania and Zambia, thus reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

2 million children per year receive psychosocial support and 451 teachers have been trained using the REPSSI Teachers Diploma.

REPSSI has experienced tremendous growth and is today recognized as the leading organization worldwide in the field of psychosocial support. REPSSI develops, accredits, and shares innovative, evidence-based and culturally appropriate methods and tools to provide psychosocial support and care for families, children and youth. REPSSI trains government officials, non-profit organizations, and community-based workers. The range of materials includes the Journey of Life and the Hero Book, both innovative tools developed for psychosocial work with children. REPSSI has also successfully developed an offline, distance-learning Certificate Course, which allows community-based workers, particularly those in rural areas, to study for an accredited qualification in support for vulnerable children.


REPSSI: Psychosocial support for orphans and vulnerable children

Partnership information

Company(ies) Novartis

Partner(s) Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UNICEF

Type of Partner(s) Government, IGOs, NGOs

Therapeutic Focus Mental and Neurological Disorders, Non-Communicable Diseases, Infectious Diseases

Disease(s) Addictive Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, HIV/AIDS, Mental Disorders, Mental Health

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - Development of Physical Infrastructure, Health System Infrastructure - Training

Targeted Population(s) Children, Youth

Region(s) Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 13

Country(ies) Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2002

More information Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

Completed date 2015

« Over 16 million children have lost either one parent or both parents [to HIV/AIDS]…it has caused a lot of negative impacts on child development and protection within the region. »

Noreen Huni, Executive Director, REPSSI