Worry as mothers dodge PMTCT

HARARE-From giving false addresses and telephone numbers to bunking hospital sessions, some mothers are taking extreme measures to avoid a programme that protects newly born babies from HIV infection.Thanks to advances in medicine, pregnant women living with HIV can now take steps to ensure their children are not infected at birth through the prevention-of-mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) service offered at health centres Over 93 percent of pregnant women can now have access to PMTCT services, according to the 2014 Global Aids Response Country Progress Report compiled by the National Aids Council and the Ministry of Health and Child Care with assistance of development partners.

Media practitioners attending the ZLHR media forum

Still, some pregnant women would rather dodge such a life-saving programme.Only 54.9 percent of infants born to HIV-positive two months of life, according to Ministry of Health “After giving birth they are supposed to come back after some time to the hospital for early infant diagnosis,” said Amon Mpofu, Director for Monitoring and Evaluation at the National  Aids Council.

“There are some mothers who are not taking their children for PMTCT. Some of the mothers give a wrong address, that’s the problem we are having with PMTCT. When we follow them up we discover they have given wrong addresses or they have given wrong telephone numbers,” said Mpofu. “We don’t know the reasons behind such behaviour but we know that as a result their children cannot be protected. There are other people who are not coming for PMTCT because maybe they don’t know. They are in the periphery, they are in rural areas.

This is the reason why we have to work with chiefs and other community leaders,” said Mpofu.“We need mechanisms to ensure that every mother is registered with a medical centre so that they are enrolled on PMCT,” said Mpofu, adding that PMTCT has increased in rural areas such as Gokwe where traditional chiefs have taken an active role in pushing mothers to access the service.

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