MASERU – The Minister of Health and Social Welfare Mphu Ramatlapeng says although there has been a general decline in HIV prevalence among pregnant women in Lesotho, the prevalence of mother-to-child infection remained high.
A 2007 survey shows that the prevalence rate among pregnant women in Lesotho has declined from 28.9 percent in 2003, to 25.7 percent in 2007.
Ramatlapeng said the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission in HIV (PMTCT) was critical in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Ramatlapeng was speaking at a refresher training course for health practitioners for PMTCT and Paediatric HIV held at Baylor Clinic in Maseru.
“For us to be an HIV free nation, we have to ensure that children born from HIV positive parents are born HIV free,” said Ramatlapeng.
She said health practitioners required adequate and up-to-date information on PMTCT to advise pregnant mothers.
She said the government would continue to provide care, treatment and support for infected mothers, their partners and children
“Even infected children can live long and normal lives if they are diagnosed early and given the necessary medication,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Aberra Bekete said the impressive achievement is a clear testimony that the government of Lesotho and its partners were making use of the PMTCT services.
“PMTCT services have increased steadily from about 5 percent in 2006 to more than 50 percent by end of 2007. This is a clear picture that we are getting better results in the fight against mother-to-child transmission,” Bekete said.
He said to improve the statistics the government is expanding PMTCT services across the country to ensure universal access.
“Many strides are being made to ensure that more services are reaching out to community level. Currently more than 80 percent of the health facilities are providing PMTCT and Early Infant Diagnosis,” he said.
He said the purpose of refresher workshop is to provide participants with technical skills needed in the development of service provision in PMTCT and Paediatric HIV.
PMTCT was launched in February 2003 in Lesotho.