As a way of scaling up the prevention of Mother to child HIV transmission, Journalist Association against AIDS (JournAIDS) has embarked on a project dubbed Strengthening advocacy for Prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) in vulnerable communities targeting 4 tradition Chiefs in Dowa district where among other things men are also being encouraged to play a role.
The project is being implemented in the area of traditional authority Nsakambewa, Nkukula, Chiwere and Mponera in Partnership with Kasalika Community based organization (KACOD) with financial support from UK based positive Action for Children fund (PACF).
According to the research conducted by Dickens P. Mahwayo in Dowa district, findings have indicated that a number of pregnant women in Dowa district do acquire antenatal care services very late thus putting the live of the unborn baby at a trap.
Making a presentation at Ambele Lodge in Dowa during a PMTCT Media Workshop, Mahwayo revealed that lack of Knowledge and other culture beliefs are contributing factors forcing pregnant women to be outside the game of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission.
“We found out that those with high education know the advantage of PMTCT compared to those with low education levels, we also observed that issues to do with culture and religious attuned perceptions and mindset in which there is belief that issues to do with child bearing is only for women are affecting the process, “he said
He added “We also documented that stigma and discrimination is at 87 percent among HIV positive women who are not in support groups compared to those who are members of support groups which is at 58 percent which means those in support groups have knowledge and they access prevention of mother to child transmission services without barriers,”.
In his recommendation Mahwayo bemoaned lack of male involvement on PMTCT issues and appealed to the media to play a significant role in raising awareness saying the media has the ability to provide the masses with lifesaving information.
JournAIDS Programmes Manager Dingaan Mithi said the project is designed to strengthen prevention of Mother to Child Transmission interventions and supports “Option B+” which is a world Health Organization recommended approach to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission whereby all HIV-Positive pregnant and lactating Women are initiated on lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART)
Mithi said they would want to engage traditional leaders, religious leaders and all the stakeholders to make the project very successful saying it is possible when all concerned parties put their hands together and fight for the common goal.
“We would want to engage different stakeholders including chiefs and Church leaders to make sure that pregnant women have knowledge about Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission”, he said
He added that the project is also aimed at enhancing community engagement to scale up the uptake of PMTCT services and advocate for equitable service delivery so that there is increased male involvement and most importantly tracking the loss to follow up in PMTCT Services which is a huge challenge at present and that they will engage the media for the good course.
Since 1995, an estimated 1.6 million new HIV infections among children have been averted due to the provision of antiretroviral medicines.
Globally targets relating to PMTCT include reducing the number of new HIV infections among Children to fewer than 40,000 by 2018 and fewer than 20,000 by 2020.there is also a commitment to ensure that 95% of pregnant women living with HIV are receiving lifelong HIV treatment by 2018.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :