Failure to follow up on infants who are exposed to HIV/AIDS is affecting uptake of the Early Infants Diagnosis (EID) services in Nkhotakota District, Women Rights Institute (WORI) has said.
WORI Assistant Programs Officer, Yamikani Mwawa made the remarks during a recent Nkhotakota District Executive Committee briefing on the project the organisation will soon roll out in the district.
Mwawa observed that Nkhotakota District lags behind in Early Infants Diagnosis compared to other districts.
WORI in conjunction with Nkhotakota DHO will soon implement a project called ‘Mai Mwana’ aimed at promoting mother-infant access to Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT).
“Since the starting of ART services in September, 2018, the district has registered 27,097 clients and 31 per cent of these clients are currently defaulters and most of them are pregnant and lactating mothers, this negatively affects the uptake of Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) services.
“Therefore, this project will help to improve tracing, testing and treatment for over 90 per cent of exposed infants and children aged 18 months and 24 months by November, 2020,” Mwawa said.
The Assistant Programs Officer said the goal of the project is to increase the uptake of early infant diagnosis and increase on the retention rate of option B+ from 75 to 90 per cent.
She added that Mai-Mwana project will address challenges faced in follow-ups on exposed infants especially at 12 and 24 months, besides helping in identifying, testing and referring exposed infants for EID program.
In his remarks, Nkhotakota District Medical Officer (DMO), Jacob Kafulafula commended WORI for coming up with the project, saying it would boost the uptake of EID services in the district.
He acknowledged that Nkhotakota lags behind in Early Infants Diagnosis due to inadequate resources to reach out to the clients; late retention of clients; ineffective tracking system of the clients and poor documentation that leads to the low uptake of EID services.
“The Mai-Mwana Project will liberate the system because clients will be followed up into their homes, which will improve identifying, testing and referring of exposed infants to EID services.
“The number of defaulters will be reduced because the project will involve families, community leaders and religious leaders at community level so that people receive required EID services,” he said.
Kafulafula said Nkhotakota District has now improved on retention period because the samples are tested at the district hospital, unlike previously when they would take the samples to Lilongwe for testing. He said this would take more than two months before clients got results.
Mai-Mwana Project is being funded by Positive Action for Children Fund (PACF) to the tune of K28 million and it will run for 12 months in Traditional Authority Mwansambo in the district.
Women Rights Institute is a Community Based Organization (CBO) founded in 2014 in Nkhotakota District. –(By Fredrick Manda-MANA)