Kiambu health officials decry rise in mother-to-child HIV transmission
Kiambu County health officials have raised a red flag over a sharp rise in HIV mother-to-child transmission rates.
While the national rate currently stands at 10.8 percent according to National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP), the rate of mother-to-child infections in Kiambu stands nine percent, a substantially higher figure that is growingly becoming a ticking time-bomb if left unchecked.
According to prevention of mother-to child-transmission (PMTCT) Programme manager at NASCOP Francis Ndwiga, urgent interventions are required by various stakeholders in a bid to curb the rise.
The manager who spoke in Thika during a training programme of health officers pointed out that the danger is not only in Kiambu County but has also spread to other counties.
Ndwiga stated that the national government is working closely with the counties with an aim of bringing the infection rates to below five percent with an ultimate goal of completely eliminating the transmission.
“The national government is working towards reducing the infections to zero. We have come up with several interventions among them developing an integrated model and placing the component of community based PMTCT programme and use of various interventions to address the matter within counties,” stated Ndwiga.
He insisted that adoption of community-based PMTCT training will be cascaded down to the household level with an aim of empowering individuals, families and the community to the responsibility of their health.
“Without the community, we have noted that it’s almost impossible to zero rate these infections.
We are now embarking on evaluating the contributing factors towards the rise and later offer the relevant training to women of reproductive age who are also facing the same risks of contracting the disease to enable them deliver healthy children who are free from the sickness,” he said.
To fast-track the process of reaching out to women of reproductive age, Kiambu County has embarked on a program of training community health workers and community health volunteers.
The county Public Health Director Teresia Wanjiru yesterday revealed that the training exercise will be rolled out across the 60 wards in the county so as to impact the right education to every household.
“Following the revision of the framework of prevention of mother to child transmission, the county has embarked on the community based PMTCT training programme so as to ensure that the information on prevention trickles down to household level,” she said.
She decried that many children in the county are turning positive after birth because many women are not aware or they attended their clinics when it was too late.
Kiambu first lady Sarah Karanja who also joined the training sessions said that she will lead the campaign to zero rate mother to child transmission within the county by supporting CHWs and CHVs who will be educating the community at grassroot levels.
“There is little or no awareness among women on how to prevent their children from being infected with the virus. Most women suffer from stigma and this results in many disregarding clinics. To end this, we will facilitate education of all women right at their convenience to ensure that they all get the right information,” she said.