Organisations focusing on Prevention from Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Dowa have called for more awareness on PMTCT to reduce infections from mother to child.
The organisations are Journalists Association against Aids (JournAids) and Kasalika Development Organisation.
The 2015-2020 National Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Strategic Plan shows that 30 percent of positive antenatal care attendees are not receiving PMTCT and experience poor retention on Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) while 50 percent of newborns are not tested for HIV.
Speaking during a daylong joint annual review meeting for Strengthening Advocacy for Vulnerable Communities project held in Dowa, JournAids Programs Manager Dingaani Mithi said it is important to sustain PMTCT so that Antenatal Care attendance (ANC), early infant diagnosis and ART retention are strengthened.
Mithi said the project is targeting four Traditional Authorities (TA’s) Msakambewa, Mponela, Mkukula and Chiwere in Dowa with a goal of contributing towards enhancing community engagement to reduce loss to follow up women and children in HIV, ANC, PMTCT and paediatric services and advocate for equitable service delivery.
“The project has reached out to 8 health facilities of the district with data collected showing at least 1,151 pregnant women have accessed antenatal care and PMTCT men clubs have been formed,” Mithi said.
The manager said both HIV negative and positive women, young women and adolescents tend to drop from 3rd ANC visits and there is low male involvement.
He also observed that Gender Based Violence (GBV) is one of the key challenges hampering PMTCT in the district as men overreact when HIV antenatal care results show positive.
In her remarks, one of the participants Grace Mac Ofeni of the Last Church of God asked JournAids and Kasalika Development Organisation to invite other church leaders at their meetings for the project to be successful in the district.
The project Strengthening Advocacy for PMTCT in Vulnerable Communities is being implemented in Dowa district with support from a United Kingdom (UK) based Positive Action for Children Fund (PACF).