Community by-laws on prevention of mother to chiid transmission (PMTCT) bearing fruits in Rumphi.
The idea to formulate community by-laws on prevention of mother to child transmission among communities in Rumphi district was a daunting task. But with commitment from the chiefs, local development structures and a unity of purpose it was done.
Now communities under Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, Mwankhunikira and Senior Chief Mwahenga have community by-laws. A tool they are using to reduce the risk of pediatric HIV infection among children born from HIV positive mothers. And it is bearing the intended fruits. Since the by-laws have been put in place, there has been an increase uptake and utilization of PMTCT services among pregnant woman and their respective husbands.
The by-laws have been instrumental in ensuring that women access periodic HIV testing together with their husbands, go for ante natal services and deliver at established health facilities with well qualified and trained hospital personnel. Of critical importance to note is the active involvement of men in seeking PMTCT services in the company of their wives. In communities that are patriarchal, it was very difficult to see men escorting women to antenatal clinics let alone get tested for HIV together with their wives
Figures in Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe show that 2088 couples were tested for HIV and a further 27, 665 people were reached with PMTCT messages. 1, 785 men also participated in study circles where they discussed matters of safe motherhood and PMTCT. In the area of Senior Chief Mwahenga, a total of 9995 people were reached with PMTCT messages, 743 couples went for HIV couple testing and 2026 men participated in study circles groups. T/A Mwankhunikira registered the following figures; 11, 066 people were reached with PMTCT messages, 685 couples were tested for HIV and 545 men participated in study circle groups. There has also been no case of home delivery compared to 2014 where 47 cases of home deliveries were reported.
About 24 male study circle groups have been established in all the three traditional authorities where they discuss issues of PMTCT and sexual reproductive health. There is openness, peace and happiness in many families as men are in forefront fighting for better health of their loved ones. Furthermore, 17 HIV-positive pregnant mothers have been initiated on ART (option B+) and they are being followed up for treatment adherence.
(Mr. Nyirenda, Journalist)