HARARE – Men are still shying away from participation in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTC) programmes, a top health official has said.
Simukai Zizhou, Mashonaland East provincial medical director (PMD) said, “The involvement of men has been undesirable. Men are deducing their HIV results from their wives. A lot of work still needs to be done. Traditionally, it has always been like that. Women are more responsive to programmes and present themselves early for treatment."
“Ninety four to 96 percent of pregnant mothers come to health institutions, this gives us a better chance to help them especially now that we have launched the Option B+.
“Husbands should accompany their wives to seek health care, this improves the chances of the couple and their child,” Zizhou told journalists touring the province ahead of the World Aids Day commemorations to be held this Sunday.
Currently, about 6 000 of the 50 381 people on anti-retro viral treatment in the province are children.
Zizhou said the ministry was now running programmes, in collaboration with traditional leaders, aimed at promoting male participation.
“We have programmes to increase their participation but progress is still slow. We are engaging chiefs to promote a campaign called Jongwe perekedza sheche,” said the PMD.
Vice president Joice Mujuru recently revealed that at least 10 000 children are being infected annually with HIV, with 90 percent of the infections through mother-to-child transmission.
The PMTCT programme in Zimbabwe began in 2009 using the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines of single dose nevirapine or Option A.
Zimbabwe is ranked as one of 22 countries with the highest number of pregnant women living with HIV,
government and partners have seen it fit to adopt a cocktail of advanced measures to fight the condition.
To this end, WHO on Wednesday launched an updated use of antiretroviral medicine for treating pregnant women and preventing the spread of the virus to infants.