News / Africa

South Africa Tackles Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

Multimedia

Audio
Lisa Schlein

Around 70,000 babies are born with HIV in South Africa every year. It is one of the main contributors to the country's high infant mortality rate.   In a hopeful sign, programs aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV from mother-to-child are meeting with success.  One such program is part of a community-based project called Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE).

Total Control of the Epidemic was started in Denmark in 1977 by the organization, Humana People to People.  TCE provides care and support to entire communities heavily affected by HIV and AIDS.

The program has been operating in South Africa for eight years and has reached more than three million people in five of the country's nine provinces.  

PEPFAR, the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are the main contributors.

Corp commander of the TCE program in Ilembe Province, Ruth Makembe, says one of the goals of the program is to make sure people know their HIV status.

"If they are positive, they should know where to go and get support-in clinics or hospitals where they can get medication," said Makembe.  "If they are negative, we encourage them to stay negative for the rest of their lives.  We are also saying that they have to change their sexual behavior."  

The program employs locals as field officers for a period of three years.  Each one works with 2,000 people.  The field officers go from house-to-house, person-to person to get each individual to become active in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

A group of women welcome visitors to Ndulinde clinic, a child and maternal health clinic in Ilembe. They are wearing red t-shirts and red berets with the TCE logo, identifying them as field officers.

Troop commander, Ntsoaki Motaung, says the song warns women not to give into the sexual demands of men.

"You want everything.  I give you my hand, I give you my breast-and then this one, you can't get it," said Motaung.

Pregnant women and mothers, holding their babies, are sitting on two long benches waiting to see a nurse.  The clinic specializes in the prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV.

At the clinic, HIV-positive pregnant women receive the necessary medication and care to give birth to a child free of HIV.  

"My name is Mbali Mhlongo, I'm 25 years old…I'm eight months pregnant," said Mhlongo.  

Mhlongo has three children and is pregnant with her fourth.  She says she got tested for HIV after she became pregnant because she saw that her boyfriend was sick and she got worried.  She says she is HIV-positive.

"I came to take my treatment for the baby and to see how the baby is feeling," she added.  "How he is kicking and all that stuff and I do everything what they say I must do.  When they are giving us a treatment, they say it is for the baby, to protect the baby."  

Mhlongo says she is feeling well except she is tired because she has to walk a long distance to get to the clinic.

Nonhlanhla Masuku, 23, welcomes visitors to her home, a one-room mud hut with a thatched roof.  She lives alone here with her three-year-old son and six-week-old baby.  

The house is situated in a poor rural area of Kwazulu Natal.  There are few neighbors and the distances to the water well, to the clinic, to the school are long.

Masuku tells the visitors and the field officer accompanying them that she got herself tested and is HIV-positive.  But, she says, she does not yet know whether her baby has been infected.

"She is saying she got the medication for the baby immediately after she delivered and, I think she is talking about AZT because she said they gave her to use that medicine for seven days," explained a field officer.

Six weeks after the baby's birth, a mother, who is enrolled in the treatment program, has to bring her baby to the clinic for injections against childhood illnesses, such as measles and polio.  

Yogan Pillay is acting director of the National Department of Health that oversees the HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics in South Africa.  He says the baby's HIV status is checked at the same time.

"And we're finding that fewer children are being born HIV positive to HIV positive moms," he noted.  "Our target for 2011 is 5 percent.  The national average at the moment is heading towards 7 percent."

Pillay says he has seen significant improvement and is sure the target of five percent transmission rate will be reached.  While this is good, he says the ultimate aim is to completely eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid