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PMCT roll out lagging behind

The new guidelines introduced last year are meant to ensure that expectant mothers start taking the anti-retroviral drugs in the early stages of their pregnancy.
Newly-born babies would also take the medication much longer after birth.

Angela Mushavi, the pediatric HIV care and treatment coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare said pregnant women and health workers also lacked adequate information on the new guidelines.

“Most of our rural clinics have not yet implemented the new guidelines on PMCT, especially those which are in the remote areas, the main reason being that we have inadequate resources,” she said.

“Though some methods which are still in practice are effective, it’s vital for us as a nation to move on with the times so that chances of a baby being born HIV-positive will be completely eliminated.”

Mushavi said the ministry was in the process of mobilising resources so that it could improve information dissemination on the new guidelines.
She said the campaign would be targeted at health workers and expectant mothers.

“The mother will start to take Zidovudine when she is about 14 weeks pregnant until the onset of labour so as to prevent the baby from being infected,” Mushavi said.
“With the previous guidelines, a mother would be put on treatment when she was 28 weeks pregnant.

“Soon after birth a child was put on treatment for one week, but with the revised version, a baby is given a dose of Neverapine until the child is weaned off.
“The drug is then given for another week after breastfeeding,” she said.

Experts say the new guidelines make breastfeeding safer. Meanwhile, the ministry is revising its information tool so that it can be able to capture data on the number of women already receiving the drugs under the new guidelines.

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