News / Africa

New Program Works Towards Eliminating Pediatric HIV

In Malawi, assessment report of USAID-backed effort warns of some hurdles

Lameck Masina

In Malawi, the Call to Action project is working to eliminate HIV infection in unborn babies.  It’s designed to give hope to women infected with the HIV-virus that they can give birth to healthy children.  The project is funded by USAID and run by an American charity, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Statistics show that over 26,000 children in Malawi are infected annually through mother-to-child transmission and 83 percent of them are living with HIV/AIDS.  One in every five children in the country dies of AIDS.

Country Director for the Foundation in Malawi Patricia Mbetu says the project helps reduce those numbers by telling pregnant women about the need to be tested and get counseling on how to avoid mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).

New Program Works Towards Eliminating Pediatric HIV
New Program Works Towards Eliminating Pediatric HIV

The prevention effort “has worked for thousands of children in Malawi and other 16 countries where we run our PMTCT projects,” Mbetu says. “What is needed for HIV-positive women is to follow the medical expert’s instructions from the time of conception, throughout the pregnancy, to breastfeeding."

The project supports almost all of the antenatal centers providing the service in three districts of Lilongwe, Dedza and Ntcheu, according to Mbetu.  Together, she says they represent 17% of all sites providing PMTCT services in the country.

Since the program began five years ago, Mbetu says, its provision sites have also doubled, from 42 to 91.

“Four of these sites are in [towns or cities], while the remaining are in semi-urban and rural health centres,” she says.

Through the project, says Mbetu, about 20,000 HIV-positive women have given birth to HIV-negative babies.

But the distribution of medicines and medical services by government to many marginalized parts of the country has remained a challenge. It is against this background that the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation teamed up with the government to help with the distribution of medicines in these and other rural areas.

“Our entry point is the ministry of health’s antenatal clinics at facility level,” says Mbetu.  “So the programs that we support obviously belong to the ministry of health.  We use the health facilities’ antenatal clinics, and we are strengthening the capacities of health workers in order to provide the information and education to mothers attending antenatal clinics.”

In Malawi, over 26,000 children are born with HIV each year
In Malawi, over 26,000 children are born with HIV each year

She says the health workers can counsel and test the mothers so that if they are infected they will be able prevent their unborn babies from being HIV-positive.

Mothers are also looked after to make sure they maintain preventive medical treatment.

Susan Chakwiya is an HIV-positive mother who has given birth to an HIV-negative baby.

"The beauty about the project is that when the babies are born, healthcare providers follow them up and keep on educating [them] to make sure we continue exclusively breast-feed them for at least six months before they start introducing other foods.”

The CTA project Assessment Report released in September cites shortage of medical personnel, lack of infrastructure and reluctance of men to go for HIV testing as major huddles in the fight. But Mbetu is optimistic that the battle will be won.

“Nothing will stop us. We are also looking at supporting the ministry of health at the national level through working groups where we share our technical expertise and experiences from countries we operate from.”

She says other countries like Botswana and Rwanda have are making considerable headway in reducing the pediatric HIV infection rate.

The rate in Malawi has stabilized at 12 percent, a two percent reduction from 2007.

The permanent secretary for nutrition and HIV and AIDS in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr. Mary Shawa, praised the project, saying it has contributed a great deal to the government’s four-year Pediatric HIV Care Scale-up Plan, which seeks to curtail new infection rates.

She says its goal is eliminate mother-to-child transmission and reduce new infection rates among sexually active people to almost two percent by 2015.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: Controversial Comedy Contains Dead-serious Dialogue

Most likely any North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended and outraged, as well as confused More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.
Video

Video Russian Moves Provide New Mission for NATO

Russia’s more aggressive military posture in Europe during the past year has pushed NATO to take new steps to strengthen its defenses, providing it, analysts say, with a much-needed new mission. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid