Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mother-Baby Pack of drugs distributed in Zambia

Zambia has introduced a new program to help give life extending drugs to HIV-positive mothers. A small box of drugs is given out to mothers to help stop the transmission of HIV to the babys during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The Zambian Health Ministry says that over 70 thousand of the country's women of child rearing years have HIV.

From the Inter Press Service, writer Brian Moonga describes the new health initiative.

Zambia has also introduced a new HIV infection prevention tool: a new drugs kit called Mother-Baby Pack is a pre-packaged set of medicines including maternal and baby prophylactic anti-retroviral medicines in line with the World Health Organization's Guidelines. The medicine comes in a box with clear directions for when a mother should take the drugs as well as when and how to administer them during the child’s first month of life.

Despite limited resources, Zambia has been praised for progress in getting the right care to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers living with HIV. The project is being implemented in eight of the country's 76 districts.

"The proactive stance taken by Zambia’s [health] ministry of and its adherence and application of the WHO 2010 guidelines to infection prevention of children has greatly helped Zambia achieve a lot towards trying to reduce this mode of HIV transmission," says Susan Stressor, country director for Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation. According to Stressor, the mother-baby pack has a 95 percent chance of preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, which she says is much more effective than the previous regimen.

"By distributing the pack, we will be helping mothers enjoy the opportunity to be able to breastfeed their infants without any fear at all. This pack enables the mother to take full control of her health and that of the infant," says Stressor.

Ruth Chisonga (not her real name) is a single mother of two who earns her living buying and selling second hand clothes in Lusaka. She has been HIV-positive for five years, and is on antiretrovirals.

Chisonga is happy at the news of the new mother-baby Pack which she feels enable her to giver birth to an HIV free child next when she decides to get pregnant, but free her from the hassle of walking long distances to collect medication. "It’s very hard for me to walk all the way. Now this kit, once it’s made available, I think it will be easier to use and will greatly lessen the chances of missing treatment schedules because I will be empowered to administer the drugs myself," she says.

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