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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid