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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs