The Malawi Post: 200,000 preggo mums HIV-tested, men involved too

The Malawi Post | September 2, 2010

The Malawi Post reports on the Foundation’s role in scaling up prevention of mother-to-child trasmission of HIV services in Malawi over the past five years.

LILONGWE—Over 200,000 pregnant women in Malawi have been tested for the HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in a program that aims at reducing mother to child transmission, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation (EGPAF) announced Wednesday in Lilongwe.

“Since we started we have seen incredible results. We have expanded technical assistance from four sites in 2001 to 91 sites in 2010. We have trained more than 1,200 health care providers,” said EGPAF country Director Elizabeth Mbetu whose organisation partnered with the Ministry of Health.

Elizabeth Glaser, wife of a Hollywood movie director, started the program with the aim of preventing HIV transmission to unborn babies after she got infected through a blood transfusion.

Speaking at the same event, Deputy U.S Ambassador to Malawi Lisa Vickers said her government, which supports HIV and Aids programmes in Malawi to the tune $50 million, was encouraged to see that men were part of the effort.

“There has been significant increase in male involvement in encouraging women access to PMTCT in the districts where the programme is present,” she said.

Nick Hellman, EGPAF executive vice president, said in future the PMCTC programme will include new guidelines as recommended by the World Health Organisation. The WHO advises starting ARVs earlier and continuing during breast feeding.

Malawi’s Director of Reproductive Health in the Ministry of Health Dr. Chisale Mhango said the programme helped the country curb one of the leading causes of marternal and infant mortality.

An exhibition of photos and stories allowed beneficiaries of the program to tell their remarkable experiences.