Mother and baby packs help prevent HIV in Africa
A colour-coded mother and baby pack is helping to save lives in Lesotho, Africa.
The kit provides essential medicines and supplies to pregnant women and, in particular, helps those who are HIV-positive to give birth to babies who are HIV negative, as well as supplying every pregnant woman with essential vitamins. It means that women who live far from clinics still have access to health care.
By ensuring that every woman has a pack, the stigma is taken away from those who are HIV positive.
Mampaleng Setente, 24, is pregnant with her first baby and is waiting for the results of her routine HIV check.
She already has a name for her child: Bohlokoa, which means ‘the most important one’. She says the pack has given her confidence that she will give birth to a healthy baby.
“I know that in that package are medicines that will make sure that I have a healthy, HIV-free baby,” she said.
A health survey carried out in Lesotho in 2009 found that mother-to-child transmission is the second most common mode of HIV transmission after heterosexual sex.
Delegations from Cameroon and Zambia, along with UNICEF Chief of HIV and Aids Craig McClure, visited Lesotho earlier this month to see the system in action.
The UNICEF visit was made ahead of this week’s International AIDS Society’s biennial conference in Washington DC which began on Sunday. The event brings together 20,000 delegates including technical experts, civic leaders, youth and people from key populations.
PressTV reported that UNICEF estimate that 1,000 children become infected with HIV every day, many of whom are born in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In order to reach an AIDS-free generation, we must get to zero new HIV infections,” said the UNICEF statement.
“How do we get to zero? Test mothers and babies, and give them the medicines they need. Treat and console those living with HIV, and also focus on prevention. Let’s get to zero.”
McClure says that while much work is being done to eliminate mothers passing on HIV to their babies, a programme addressing the needs of adolescent girls must be put in place.
“Our focus [in adolescent programming] is on young girls in sub-Saharan African who bear the brunt of HIV infection,” McClure said.