Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF), in collaboration with Kilimanjaro Region authorities, has launched an improved method for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMCT) called ‘Option B+’.
EGPAF that began as ‘three mothers around a kitchen table’ in 1988 is now the leading global nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating pediatric HIV and Aids.
The Zonal Coordinator for EGPAF in the Northern Zone regions Dr Ponsiano Riziki said the new method needs expectant mothers who are HIV/Aids positive to start using HIV/Aids recognized antiretroviral (ARVs) regardless whether their CD4s are less or not.
The regions are Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga. Leonidas Gama, the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, graced the launch of the programme
Riziki said: “Before this new method, an expectant mother who is HIV positive was advised to use ARVs within very few weeks.”
EGPAF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other health service provider teams from district to regional levels had provided capacity building trainings to the 91 health experts from 52 health centres in three Kilimanjaro region districts, namely Hai, Moshi Municipal and Moshi Rural to start providing ‘Option B+’ services.
“We have already trained a total of 91 health experts from three districts of Kilimanjaro region on ‘Option B+’ method of prevention of mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmissions to start providing such crucial health services to the community more effectively,” Dr. Riziki explained.
According to him apart that EGPAF is cooperating with the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) referral hospital to provide ‘Option B+’ to other 50 health experts.
“It’s our aim to make all health centres that provide PMCT services attain new ‘Option B+’ methods of PMCT.
The Regional Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Mtumwa Mwako stated that in 2011/12, HIV/Aids transmission in the region was 3.8%. “In the same year a total of 38,000 expectant mothers who attended clinics at various health centres, 836 of whom were HIV/Aids,” she explained.
Between January and December 2012 at least 823 children were born to HIV/Aids mothers and some 39 children were found to be HIV/Aids positive. Five percent of them got infections from their mothers.
RC Gama said the government was spending lots of money to buy HIV/Aids recognized antiretroviral (ARVs) and appealed to communities to change their behaviour.
EGPAF currently supports more than 7,300 sites around the world. Its supported programmess have reached nearly 18 million women with services to prevent the transmission of HIV to their babies.
It has also tested more than 16 million women for HIV; enrolled nearly 2.1 million individuals, including more than 165,000 children, into HIV care and support programmes and started more than 1.1 million individuals, including nearly 99,000 children, on antiretroviral treatment.