Written by: Favour Mazinga of Nyasa Times
Life Concern Organisation (LICO) -a local NGO based in Rumphi- has launched a ‘Bring your Wife-PMTCT’ campaign that aim to engage men participation in the access and utilization of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services.
The campaign which will run for a period of one year targets to reach out to 500 couples within Rumphi district.
And speaking during the launch of the campaign at Bolero, Paramount chief Chikulamayembe called on men to accompany their pregnant spouses in order to get correct information on the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) and other antenatal services.
“Attending an antenatal clinic and PMTCT services with your partner will help you both to make decisions that are best for you, your baby and the family at large,” said Chikulamayembe.
“I want to call on men to accompany their spouses to health facilities and get correct information on pregnancy issues such as delivery, breastfeeding and in case they are HIV positive, thy need to know how they can avoid infecting the un born child.”
The Tumbuka paramount chief challenged the men to rise above cultural and social norms and gender stereotypes which entails that taking care of the pregnancy and rasing children is a woman’s activity.
And in his remarks Executive Director for LICO Peter Gondwe said his organization started implementing PMTCT project in 2012 which mainly aimed at increasing the access and utilization of PMTCT services among the HIV positive couples.
Gondwe said however, the project was hampered by low male involvement in the PMTCT, lack of correct information on PMTCT which led to some men sharing ARVs even before they could get tested for HIV.
“In some circumstances, pregnant women who tested for HIV positive could not disclose their sero status to their spouses in order to protect their marriages making adherence to ART a challenge,” said Gondwe.
He said it is against this background that his organization with support from ViiV Healthcare is implementing a bring your wife campaign in order to clear the mist regarding PMTCT and ensure active male involvement in antenatal services.
Gondwe said his organization has trained 10 male promoters who will be inspiring their fellow men to access PMTCT services together with their spouses.
As an incentive, LICO will also be providing plastic basins and other materials need for labour to pregnant women who come to health facilities accompanied by their spouses.
The executive director also said under the project, HIV+ breastfeeding mothers will be supported with sustainable family centred nutritional support as soya, vegetables and goats on a pass on basis.