LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
ABOUT 1,185 babies have been prevented from getting HIV through the implementation of the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) project that was done in five health facilities in Lusaka.
Lusaka City Council (LCC) Town Clerk, Alex Mwansa said the programme, which run from October 2017 to 2018 October under the Fast Track Cities (FTC) which was a global partnership between cities and municipalities around the world and four core partners, including International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPA) was a success.
Mr Mwansa was speaking at the weekend when he presented the Lusaka report at the on-going London FTC round table forum in Britain.
He said babies within the catchment areas of the five health facilities namely Chipata, Kanyama, Chawama, Chaisa and Mtendere were prevented from getting HIV during the implementation of EMTCT project.
“The EMTCT has scored a number of achievements as evidenced by both facility/Community Based Organisations (CBOs) data and reports from beneficiaries of the project.
“We observed that during community sensitizations, women and their partners were sensitized together on EMTCT strategies and their benefits,” he said
Mr Mwansa said that as a result couples intending to have children now knew the importance of booking early for antenatal clinics.
He said that during the same period, HIV status disclosure rate was reported to have gone up, resulting in drastic reduction of self-stigma and defaulting.
“The other achievement reported is the improved adherence to treatment as the five health facilities reported the increase in mothers taking their babies for all routine HIV tests at appointed times, that is, at birth, at six weeks, at six months, at nine months, at 12 months and at 18 months,” he said.
Mr Mwansa further said the counseling of couples also led to most clients to readily accept their status and commence treatment for the benefit of their babies and themselves.
The project also recorded an improvement in the number of HIV positive mothers breastfeeding their babies exclusively.
He said Lusaka was one of the FTC around the globe, which was striving to end HIV epidemics in their communities by 2030.