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

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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