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‘Men crucial in enhancing PMTCT’

The Ministry of Health has said men are the missing link to the success of the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) initiative in Balaka District.

Balaka PMTCT District Coordinator, Amiza Saindi, said when the programme was rolled out in 2005, it was hard to attract women to get tested to facilitate the smooth administration of PMTCT.

Speaking when Drug Resource Enhancement Against Aids (Dream) held a PMTCT open-day at Nyanyala in Balaka last Saturday, Saindi said nine out 10 children born from HIV-positive women are being delivered free of HIV.

“The key to PMTCT is getting tested. However, when male participation is low, the success of PMTCT is highly affected because women tend to hide their sero-status from their husbands due to fear of being divorced or stigmatised,” she said.

Saindi said in order to reduce incidences of mother-to-child transmission, they have enhanced male involvement, sero-status disclosure and drug adherence so that children born to HIV-positive couples are not infected by the virus.

Dream Malawi Project Officer Darlington Thole said his organisation is bringing the clinic to the people to access vital services such as Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), PMTCT, Early Infant Diagnosis and Nutrition Support and Psycho Social Support, among other interventions.

“We want to encourage pregnant and lactating women to be coming to the outreach clinic to access services because most of them had difficulties going to Phalula Health Centre or Balaka District Hospital because of transport,” he said.

Thole also said since the project started in 2014, no pregnant mother has transmitted the virus to her newborn baby.

Guest of Honour at the function, Inkosi Chanthunya, encouraged more pregnant women to patronize the clinic to get tested so that they access PMTCT and contribute to efforts to eradicate HIV and Aids.

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