MASERU — The Minister of Health, Dr Pinkie Manamolela, on Thursday urged community leaders to encourage pregnant mothers to go for antenatal clinic where they would receive all healthcare services.
Manamolela was speaking during a national meeting with community leaders on the dissemination of new guidelines for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.
The new guidelines seek to enroll all pregnant mothers who are infected with HIV on antiretroviral therapy.
She said acquiring health services would help reduce the possibility of HIV positive mothers from infecting their unborn babies.
Manamolela said some pregnant mothers were still giving birth at home, therefore increasing the possibilities of HIV related maternal and child deaths.
She said community leaders should urge pregnant mothers to test for HIV in order for them to be enrolled on antiretroviral treatment.
Manamolela said the prevention of mother to child transmission programme can be effective if all mothers attended antenatal clinic and delivered at health centres and not at home.
“Delivering at home increases HIV-related maternal and child deaths,” she said before urging community leaders to also play a role in encouraging pregnant mothers to test for HIV as a critical step towards prevention.
Manamolela said despite significant progress in reducing mother to child transmission of HIV, there were still concerns.
“The prevalence rate has remained high and therefore there is need to scale up PMTCT interventions.
“There is also need to use various community mobilisation strategies to improve awareness on the new PMTCT recommendations.”
Manamolela commended community leaders particularly the traditional chiefs, for joining forces with the ministry to encourage voluntary testing and counseling.
The PMTCT Coordinator, ‘Matsepeli Nchephe confirmed that all pregnant mothers who are HIV positive were currently being initiated on antiretroviral treatment in order to optimise their health and prevent infection to the baby.
“Community leaders’ support through encouraging the mothers to be tested and treated if they test positive, is important.”
The PMTCT Programme is designed to assist HIV-positive pregnant mothers not to transmit the virus to their newborn babies and at the same time, keep both the mothers and babies alive and healthy.
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