Expectant women shun antenatal clinics in Dowa

Dowa District Nursing officer, Jennipher Chimbatata has said low attendance of women in antenatal clinics during the first three months and limited male involvement are hampering the goal of eliminating new HIV infections among children in the district.

Pregnant women

Speaking in an interview, Chimbatata said the goal of eliminating new HIV infections in children and keeping HIV positive mothers alive begins with mothers visiting antenatal clinics.

She said at the clinics, community health care workers perform tasks related to Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV that include making referrals and follow-ups to the pregnant mothers to ensure a total elimination of new HIV infections among children in the district.

“Poor utilization of available services by pregnant mothers has led to persistent high infection rates in exposed children in the district,” said Chimbatata. HIV prevalence rate in the district is at 7.1 percent.

Journal AIDS Programs Manager, Dingaani Mithi, said his organization is building the capacity of traditional leaders and community structures to modify cultural beliefs that derail PMTCT and will be strengthening awareness of male engagement in tackling gender based violence which is very common in the district.

Mithi said, in order to achieve the intended objective of male involvement, his organization has ‘formed 16 PMTCT men’s clubs in Dowa reaching a total of 250 men in 4 T/As of Msakambewa, Mponela, Chiwere and Mkukula to ensure increased male participation’ which will in turn enhance message reach out to all the communities.

Journal AIDS is implementing a three-year – Strengthening Advocacy for PMTCT project in vulnerable communities with an approach to see to it that all HIV- positive pregnant and lactating women are initiated on lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 4 TAs of Dowa district.

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