Authorities in Dowa have pointed out long distances to hospital as a key challenge to efforts aimed at preventing mother to child HIV transmission.
Nurse Midwife Technician for Msakambewa Health Centre Onnester Hedson Kachiundo said the road in the area is hard and bumpy for ordinary vehicles hence affecting Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV activities.
She cited Msalanyama, Madzindima and Chibanzi villages where women have to cough out K4,000 travelling on a motorcycle and K3,000 for bicycle taxis to Msakambewa Health Centre on one way journey, which is hard for poor people.
“High transportation costs are making both HIV negative and positive women, young women and adolescents to drop from 3rd antenatal care visits to Msakambewa Health Centre in the district resulting to more of newborns not tested for HIV,” she said.
The Midwife Technician also said women who are poor fail to go to hospital for 1st antenatal care visits resulting to more number of deliveries at home and away from the designated health centre.
She then appealed to partners to complement government’s effort by supporting Msakambewa Health Centre with ambulances and pushbikes, thanking the Partners in Hope (PIH) for the support which is being rendered to expert clients in the district.
Kachiundo also encouraged men and women to go for HIV Testing and counselling saying those who have gone for the process are contributing favourably to the development of their families and communities.
She added that it is important to strengthen networking and partnerships with all NGOs working on PMTCT in targeted areas and as a whole district to share vital lessons so that the program can make an impact.
In her remarks, Senior Group village head Woman Jonasi of Traditional Authority Mponela in the district said as part of encouraging more men to escorting their pregnant wives for 1st antenatal care visits, her area has formulated bylaws which all husbands are abiding to and more men are being involved in escorting their wives to the health facilities.