By The Citizen Reporter
Despite global efforts to end the spread and transmission of HIV, Tanzania is a long way from achieving its goal in this endeavour. HIV is now being profusely transmitted from mother to child.
It should be known and further underscored that an HIV-positive mother can transmit HIV to her baby any time during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
With mother-to-child HIV transmissions currently being estimated to stand at 6,000 children per annum in the country, the call for more effective actions to be taken to curb these transmissions has never been greater.
According to the Health Ministry, these infections are fueled by failure to go for regular health checkup, most specifically encouraging pregnant women to receive antenatal care at health facilities in order to know their HIV status so that they can take the right precautionary measures.
There are several steps spouces can take to reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to their coming baby. These steps are within their means to ensure that mother and child are both healthy during childbirth. The main goal is to mitigate the fast-rising infection rates in Tanzania.
The imperative nature of the situation is augmented in the grim statistics as shared by the Health Ministry and further expounded by Health minister Ummy Mwalimu. The cost of inaction is graver than anything else.
As health experts advise, if one doesn’t have HIV, but one or one’s partner engages in behaviours that put them at risk for HIV, it is important for one to get tested again in her third trimester. By taking this action one is not only protecting herself, but also giving her unborn child a chance at a strong and healthy life.
Parents’ role in the matter
Every couple should be keen on their child’s health. This is a duty that should be equally shared in a relationship. A spouse should also encourage his or her partner to get tested for HIV.
The statistics of more than 6,000 transmissions is enough to show just how serious and out of hand the situation is getting if no immediate action is being taken to curb the dire state.
Tanzania will only be able to achieve the 2030 zero HIV transmissions goal if efforts to contain the mother-to-child spread are taken not only at the national level but also on a personal or household’s level.
Every prospective father, mother needs to adhere to health requisites such as the often stressed about regular health checkups. It is through checkups that their data can be recorded into the formal health care system and they learn about their health status and hence know what to do in case of any abnormality.
Being unaware of one’s status is one of the factors that leads to delayed detections. Ignorance is the bane of the fight against eradication of many challenges, including the spread of HIV.
With the current number of people living with HIV in Tanzania estimated to be around 1.7 million, with over 200,000 of them unaware of their status, this exposes children to transmission of the virus.
The number of those living without knowing their status is too high and should thus not be condoned. Efforts need to be fortified to help address the case of ignorance and among pregnant women. They need to be advised and encouraged to go for checkup.
Similarly, their partners should be at the forefront in this drive for a healthy lifestyle that will ensure the safety for their unborn child.
Together, we can bring the change we want.