Launching Option B+ in Tanzania

By Anna Sawaki | March 17, 2014

Jowika Kasunga displays a bottle of antiretroviral medications (ARVs) during the country’s official launch of the World Health Organization’s new consolidated HIV care and treatment guidelines.

EGPAF

This February, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in collaboration with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MHSW) officially launched the World Health Organization’s (WHO) new consolidated HIV care and treatment guidelines throughout the Arusha region.

On Feb. 20, MOH officials, health workers, and regional representatives attended an official launch ceremony held at the Ngrenaro Hospital in Arusha.

Following the WHO’s release of new treatment guidelines in June 2013, EGPAF began training health workers throughout Tanzania to be able to provide the new treatment standards. The guidelines include a recommendation to provide life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) to all HIV-positive pregnant or breastfeeding women, also known as Option B+. Since January, EGPAF and the MHSW have trained more than 80 health workers in the region.

Now, health workers will begin putting their training into practice, ensuring that HIV-positive mothers in the region have access to comprehensive care and treatment that will prevent transmission of HIV to their children.

“About 20 women have been able to have HIV negative babies after using the option B+ services,” Frida Mokiti, M.D., Arusha’s regional medical officer, announced at the event.

She added that health workers will continue to work toward their target of enrolling 75 percent of HIV-positive mothers into Option B+ by 2015.

Jowika Kasunga, district commissioner for Mondoli district, encouraged all HIV-positive pregnant women to adhere to this service to prevent their babies from contracting HIV.

“Every HIV positive women has the right to use this service,” Kasunga said. “I kindly emphasize HIV pregnant women to strongly adhere to PMTCT services.”

Want to learn more about the new WHO treatment guidelines? Check out our Option B+ Frequently Asked Questions.

Anna Sawaki is EGPAF’s Communications and Advocacy Officer, based in Tanzania.