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African Delegates Call On Countries To Do More To Prevent Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV

Delegates from 15 African countries this week concluded a three-day workshop held in Nairobi, Kenya, examining how countries can improve their efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, VOA News reports.

WHO Family and Reproductive Health Director Tigest Ketsela, who spoke at the meeting, “said more than 85 percent of children in the world living with HIV/AIDS are located in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily because of mother-to-child transmission,” according to VOA News. Ketsela attributed the high percentage to this population being overlooked by weakened health systems in the region, VOA News writes.

“[I]n many places, health care systems are not implementing WHO guidelines that outline the proper use of antiretroviral therapies for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for infants exposed to HIV,” according to VOA. “In addition, counseling services for HIV-positive mothers may be missing or the counselors not properly trained, and there may not be enough antiretroviral drugs to go around.”

“Workshop delegates urged governments to implement Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission [PMTCT] programs that have been tested on a small-scale,” such as “making AIDS drugs and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission services widely available at the village level, levying a tax on airline travel to fund those programs, and implementing the new WHO guidelines for drug therapies,” VOA News writes. “They also agreed to support existing plans to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, on reaching isolated and rural populations, strengthening health services for mothers and children, and improving services, drugs and the use of infant prophylaxis” (Majtenyi, 3/17).

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